CHESHIRE — Officers and staff at Cheshire Correctional Institution started a campaign to help in the hurricane relief effort in Puerto Rico and wound up collecting more than $11,000 and a truck load of donations.
The campaign included donation boxes at state Department of Correction facilities and charging visitors to park. Cheshire correction workers recruited local police and firefighters to help in the effort, and packed a bus at the Stop & Shop last Saturday. The Fill the Bus campaign was organized by the Cheshire Correctional Institution’s Diversity Council and the DOC’s Central Transportation Unit.
”It was fantastic,” said Lt. Bangie Vasquez.
DOC Commissioner Scott Semple handed a $11,487 check to Richard Branigan, chief administrative officer for the Connecticut and Rhode Island Region of the American Red Cross. The DOC also gave a check for more than $2,000 and a truckload of donated items to the San Juan Center of Hartford.
“Many of the staff contacted my office because they wanted to do something for Puerto Rico,” Semple said. “We did an internal query and it was interesting to find out about 600 staff have family or roots in Puerto Rico.”
The San Juan Center has shipped more than 12,000 pounds of items to Puerto Rico since October. The goods collected by the DOC will go to the families coming to Connecticut from the island.
“They are coming with nothing,” said Martina Martinez, assistant administrator for the San Juan Center. “We will concentrate on the families here. We see the need.”
The Red Cross had a citation for the DOC’s efforts.
“We would like to present the Department of Corrections with a token of our appreciation for all your efforts, and for thinking of the folks in Puerto Rico,” Branigan said. “We hope that our relief efforts have offered some hope and comfort to some people on the island. We know we are trying our best to help people coming from the island.There are a lot of people coming to Connecticut and it’s been a very busy season for us. It takes a partnership to help people and you people are part of that partnership.”