People dig around their collapsed houses to find household goods on Sept. 21, 2017, in Jojutla in the state of Morelos near the epicenter of a magnitude 7.1 earthquake that struck central Mexico two days earlier. Kyodo via AP

A group of local residents and businesses have joined forces and created a group called “Voluntariado Mexicano de Long Island” or Mexican Volunteers of Long Island to help with earthquake and hurricane relief efforts.

Mexicans have suffered yet another earthquake this morning, the third one this month, according to the US Geological Survey. Aftershocks have also been felt throughout the region.

Mexico officials estimate the death toll of this past Tuesday’s earthquake at about 300 people. Buildings in Mexico City turned to rubble and infrastructure everywhere suffered enormously, said local reports.

“We are very sad to see so much pain and damage in Mexico. There are so many deaths and people affected in one way or another. Mexico needs us,” said Paola Zuniga-Tellez, FRNCA board member and Flanders resident.

Led by a group of local women who have been rallying help throughout Long Island, the group is committed to not only collect donations at different collection sites set up across Suffolk County, but also to transport those items directly to Mexico’s areas they think need the most help.

“We feel a big support from the community, people are coming together. We are all one family,” Zuniga-Tellez said.

“We want to make sure that everything we collect gets delivered. Sometimes rural areas and small towns don’t get as much as they should,” said Alicia Saldierna, a local community leader and one of the organizers.

Saldierna explained that “Liga de Justicia,” a Long Island law firm, will provide vehicles that will help transport donations from all collection sites through Suffolk County, including Riverhead and Flanders, to a warehouse courtesy of Smithtown Nissan. Saldierna said that currently “Voluntariado Mexicano of Long Island” organizers are trying to find the best way to take those donations from Long Island directly to the people affected in Mexico and are in talks with representatives from several airlines. 

“It’s a long, complicated process but we want to avoid as many intermediaries as possible,” she said.

Locally, donations can be made at the Flanders-Northampton Volunteer Ambulance located at the corner of Bell Avenue and Flanders Road Sunday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“We have to show humanity,” said Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance board member Matt Deerkoski. “We helped with Hurricane Harvey and now we are here helping people down in Mexico and Puerto Rico,” he said.

Arturo DeJesus, owner of DeJesus Deli & Taqueria with locations in Riverhead and Southampton, has offered to help and his two restaurants will also serve as collection sites for Hurricane Maria and the Mexico earthquakes.

“In Puebla, where I’m from, there weren’t a lot of deaths, but the damage to the infrastructures was incredible. People lost everything they owned in life, everything, their whole patrimony. You have to understand, in Mexico is very hard to lose everything, that’s it for you, and that is why I’m here. That is why we have to help,” Dejesus said, his voice breaking with emotion.

Located in the TJ Maxx shopping center, the restaurant is open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., DeJesus said.

Luisa’s Magic Scissors located on Main Street will also be receiving donations for Mexico and Puerto Rico from 10am to 8pm, said its owner Luisa Ramos.

Today’s 6.1 magnitude earthquake happened roughly between the centers of the other two quakes: the 7.1 magnitude temblor that hit Tuesday was centered close to Mexico City and the center of the 8.1 magnitude quake that struck Sept. 8 was off of the southern Pacific coast.

Saldierna said that people in Mexico are terrified. She said that Mexicans everywhere remember the 1985 earthquake that killed 10,000 people and they feel very much history repeating itself.

“We have to reflect at times like these. Who are we as people? Who are we in the face of so much pain? We have to show that by coming together and helping we are united and we will overcome this tragedy. Personally, I want my daughter to see me helping others, so she will do the same in the future,” she said.

Long Island Volunteers for Mexico are asking for items such as canned food, diapers, toilet paper, cotton, tarps, tents, inflatable mattresses, pet food, etc. No water or clothes.

Please see below for a complete list of items needed and collection site locations

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