Chicago's Mexican, Puerto Rican communities combine efforts to help disaster victims

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Efforts are underway in Chicago to help victims of both Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico.

The National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture hosted a gala Thursday in Humboldt Park. The annual event raised more than $26,000 for hurricane victims as many in the area mobilize to help.

In west suburban West Chicago, there is a call for volunteers, not just supplies, to help earthquake victims.

"We feel sorry for them. We are here in the USA, sometimes we complain about what we have here, but those people doesn't have nothing," said Laurie Miranda of Prayer Network USA.

In Humboldt Park, there was a celebration and a call to action. Money raised at the annual Raices gala benefits hurricane relief in Puerto Rico.

"We're not on the island. We're not with a lot of our loved-ones right now, so we're here together with people that are going through kind of the same kind of emotions," said Veronica Gomez, who attended the gala.

Carlos Hernandez of the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance has been unable to reach his friends and family there.

"The power is down, the communication is down and it's worrisome and you're thinking what's going on over there? How are they suffering?" Hernandez said.

Meantime, Hernandez is trying to help. The Puerto Rican Arts Alliance and the National Museum of Mexican Art are teaming up to raise funds to help with recovery from both natural disasters.

"Billions, I mean both countries, really unbelievable and so all of the support that we can get is very valuable," said Carlos Tortolero, president of the National Museum of Mexican Art.

Organizers said by uniting in their fundraising efforts, they can provide more badly needed help to both Mexico and Puerto Rico. They are collecting donations online and in person at both museums and also at the Wintrust Bank in Pilsen.

"To sit there for four-and-a-half hours while that eye pounded the building that I was in, let me tell you something, it's most terrifying moment of my life. I didn't honestly think I was going to make it," said State Senator Iris Martinez.

Martinez was in St. Maarten when the hurricane passed through. She is joining other political leaders in Humboldt Park to talk about fundraising efforts for Puerto Rico. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, D-Chicago, also has family in Puerto Rico.

"A lot of people have said, 'Luis, how do I get hold of my family?' I can't get a hold of my own family members," Gutierrez said.

Though Puerto Rico has received a disaster declaration, some are urging the Trump administration to waive rules requiring Puerto Rico to foot the bill for part of the recovery.

"This is no time for cost-sharing. Puerto Rico is broke," Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez has written a letter to President Donald Trump calling for more actions to help Puerto Rico.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city is coordinating leaders to organize a city-wide relief drive for Puerto Rico and Mexico.

The city of Chicago has also created a website,, that contains a list of verified charities and organizations assisting with relief efforts.

For information on donating to the Mexican Red Cross, click here. For more information on donating to UNICEF's relief efforts in Mexico, click here.

Chicago Cubs catcher Rene Rivera, who is from Puerto Rico, has started a GoFundMe page and he has vowed to match whatever donations are made to that page.

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