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In between teaching Spanish classes, Lincoln-West School of Global Studies teacher Rosa Cruz-Morales is reading Facebook direct messages and accepting donations for earthquake victims who are in Puerto Rico or fleeing the island after their homes were destroyed.  

“They are coming because they don't have anything,” said Ms. Cruz-Morales. 

Shortly after the first earthquake hit Puerto Rico on Dec. 28, she and her students jumped into action asking for donations.  “The power of social media, the power of being humble and reaching out to the community and then to see their response, they [the students] see that they can make a difference,” said Ms. Cruz-Morales. “It's an amazing experience for them, but it's also an amazing experience as a teacher.”  

The donations of clothes and shoes for babies to adults, toiletries, baby supplies and food are coming in non-stop said Ms. Cruz-Morales, whose hometown of Juana Diza, Puerto Rico sustained an earthquake on Jan. 15, 2020. The earthquake registered at 5.9, according to the United States Geological Survey, the federal agency that records earthquakes.  

This natural disaster hits close to home. Ms. Cruz-Morales moved from Puerto Rico when she was 3 but moved back several times during her childhood. She graduated from Lincoln-West High School in 2007. 

She said the donations will go to the 10 families who already contacted her and said they are coming to Cleveland, but she knows there will be more. “We need (non-perishable) food for the kids, for the families, especially baby food.” she said.  

Indya, a Global Studies senior, is helping sort all the donations. She says her grandmother lives in Puerto Rico.  “She got hurt by it [an earthquake],” said Indya. “She does not want to leave. She loves Puerto Rico so much. She recently had heart surgery, so she didn’t have all her medications, but my aunt went there to help her. She's OK.” 

The school is also sending supplies of flashlights, batteries, ponchos and blankets through the Young Latino Network, a non-profit empowering the Latino community in Cleveland. They sent several people to Puerto Rico this week.  

In late March, Ms. Cruz-Morales and 10 students will travel to southern Puerto Rico for two weeks to help build a school and a home. They are still trying to raise $10,000 for travel expenses. “I take my kids with the intention of them putting the service learning lessons I have taught them throughout the year to use in Puerto Rico,” said Ms. Cruz-Morales, who has worked at Lincoln-West since 2013.  “I want them to know that what they're learning is going to make an impact. They make an impact here in our community, but now they may make an impact globally.” 

This will be the second time Ms. Cruz-Morales and LWGS students have traveled to Puerto Rico to help with recovery.  The first was in 2018 after Hurricane Maria. 

 “Although I teach Spanish, I teach them that they can help the world,” she said. "This is something that's going to help them throughout their whole entire life. This is not just a trip to Puerto Rico. It is an experience. They will get to see people affected by this, and they will learn not to take things for granted.”  

They are taking school supplies and gifts from Wal-Mart with them on the trip, said Ms. Cruz-Morales, whose parents still live in Puerto Rico. Her parents' home sustained heavy damage after the hurricane, and they were visiting Northeast Ohio when the earthquakes began. She said they have not returned home yet.  
If you would like to donate items, contact the Lincoln-West School of Global


Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 01/28/20 11:25:57 -0800.




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