As the anniversary of Hurricane Maria is upon us, school is about to start for Puerto Rico's 240,000 school-aged children. Many children will be returning to broken desks, mold from still-leaking roofs and walls in desperate need of paint, all of which impact the learning environment.
When Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in mid-September 2017, there was a massive relief effort to bring life-saving aid to the devastated Caribbean island. More than 1,400 people died as a result of the Category 4 storm which destroyed homes, roads and bridges, knocked out power and triggered heavy flooding. Hospitals, public buildings and especially schools were left badly damaged or flattened.
Step forward the J.J. Barea Foundation, VARIDESK CEO and co-founder Jason McCann and CEVA Logistics. J.J. Barea is the Puerto Rican-born Dallas Mavericks basketball star whose non-profit foundation has been active in the year-long effort to bring relief to the island since the hurricane. As part of the effort to support his foundation, VARIDESK worked with its logistics provider, CEVA Logistics, to deliver nearly 500 desks and seating to four schools across Puerto Rico in order that students and teachers could start to try and rebuild from the devastation.
Working to deliver to desks and seating as efficiently as possible, the CEVA Logistics team organised three 40-foot ocean containers to be loaded with VARIDESK's donated furniture and then transported from Dallas, Texas to Puerto Rico before arranging final mile delivery to each of the four schools by local CEVA Logistics associates on the island. After volunteers repainted their schools' damaged school basketball courts, J.J. invited the local children to see their new desks and to join him in a basketball clinic at his alma mater, Acadamia Immaculata Concepcion in Mayaguez. This was followed by a special ceremony to rededicate the schools.
"A natural disaster of this kind takes years to recover from, and Puerto Rico has the added challenge of being an island community where all the recovery goods need to be shipped in by air or ocean which adds further time and cost to the recovery effort," says J.J. Barea. "Having the right school
environment and supplies is critical to learning, and I want to express my appreciation to CEVA Logistics for their contribution to the project and helping us ensure these students and teachers start the new school year off fresh with new desks and seats," he adds.
Jason McCann, CEO co-founder of VARIDESK, says: "We are incredibly inspired by Puerto Rico's spirit and ability to overcome adversity. We wanted to provide students with resources to learn and thrive, and to let the community know that we care and want to help. We are honored to be part of J.J.'s foundation's efforts in Puerto Rico."
"It was our pleasure to help such a worthy cause and bring back a proper learning environment to so many young people in Puerto Rico following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria," says Michael O'Donoghue, CEVA Logistics' Managing Director for North America.