Kiara Gardiner, a Human Services major at Finger Lakes Community College and 2017 graduate of Geneva High School, has been working tirelessly to collect food to send to Puerto Rico as they recover from Hurricane Maria. Gardiner will be collecting donations at one of the more than 100 tables lining the halls of North Street Elementary School during the Festival of Nations event on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 1 – 4 p.m.
Due to Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico has been devastated and many people have been left homeless. “My mission is to help those people by providing them with the food and supplies I have collected at the FLCC Geneva Campus,” says Gardiner, who sets up her table most days in the main foyer of the Pulteney Street building. “It’s all about helping each other; when we get knocked down, we have to help each other to get back up.”
Inspired by her father, who is originally from Puerto Rico, Gardiner organized her fundraiser in partnership with the United for Puerto Rico Foundation (unitedforpuertorico.com). The organization was started by the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, in collaboration with companies from the private sector including JetBlue, Coca-Cola, Burger King and many others.
Gardiner says the outpouring of support from FLCC and the local community has already allowed her to send one shipment of bags full of necessary items, including: bottled water, hand sanitizer, canned and dry foods, baby items and personal care items. In order to get the supplies to people in need, Gardiner’s father drove them to a drop-off location in Pennsylvania coordinated by Puerto Rico No Esta Apagao, a partner organization of United for Puerto Rico. Gardiner, moved by the amount of momentum behind her fundraiser, plans to send the second shipment of goods to Puerto Rico through the Red Cross or the United States National Guard.
Gardiner has enjoyed seeing the collaboration and generosity of the students at FLCC. She thanks the staff, student trustees and the multicultural group AALAANA for their help and support.
Interested people can donate bottled water, hygiene kits, canned and dry foods, baby items and personal care items at the Festival of Nations on Saturday.
Coordinated by the Geneva City School District, Hobart and William Smith Colleges and FLCC, the Festival of Nations is a collaborative event among schools and local artists and musicians, business owners, community resources and non-profit agencies.