COCONUT CREEK — As South Florida residents prepare for the start of this year's hurricane season, a Coconut Creek-based international charity is stocking up on emergency relief supplies for poor residents living in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Blankets, lanterns, stoves and other donated supplies cram the warehouse of Food For The Poor, the nation's second-largest international relief organization. The nonprofit aids 16 countries, including Jamaica, Haiti, Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Belize and Mexico.
When disasters strike, the Christian charity, located at 6401 Lyons Road, sends out workers and supplies to assist in the recovery process. Founded in 1982, the organization provides food, water, medicine, educational materials, homes and emergency relief to the nation's poorest countries.
“Last year, we rushed more than 300 truckloads of emergency relief supplies to victims of natural disasters in the Caribbean and Latin America,’’ said Food For The Poor executive director Angel Aloma.
When Hurricane Dean struck the southern portion of Jamaica in August 2007, the organization sent in a 20-vehicle convoy with food and other emergency supplies to Portland Cottage, the most devastated part of the island.
Food For The Poor also operates another warehouse in Jamaica, located in Spanish Town, said Ann Briere, Food For the Poor's public relations manager.
In November 2007, the organization responded again when Tropical Storm Noel ravaged the neighboring countries of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
Food For The Poor sent more than 55 containers filled with hygiene kits, lumber, zinc, tents, blankets, clothing and food.
“The islands we serve tend to get the brunt of hurricanes,’’ Briere said. “We stock up on hurricane relief supplies so we can respond immediately after a damaging storm. Every [hurricane season], we have the opportunity to serve one of our countries.’’
For more information or to find out how to make a donation, contact Food For The Poor at 954-427-2222 or visit www.foodforthepoor.org.
Photo by Elgin Jones/SFT Staff. Food for the Poor spokesman Hugh Graf holds a kerosene lantern at the agency’s warehouse.