Hurricane Maria Children's Relief Fund

by Save the Children Federation Vetted since 2008 Top Ranked Site Visit Verified
Hurricane Maria Children's Relief Fund

Hurricane Maria punished Puerto Rico with a fury the island hadn’t experienced in almost 90 years. Even before the storm, Puerto Rico was an extremely difficult place to be a child, with some of the highest child poverty rates in the United States.

With your support, we continue to help girls and boys affected by Maria and address the challenges they faced before the hurricane – and we’ll stay close to them throughout the coming year. We’re partnering with local leaders, schools and organizations to strengthen child care, early childhood development and nutrition services. Meanwhile, our humanitarian teams responded swiftly in the Carolinas, the Florida panhandle and southwest Georgia following Hurricanes Florence and Michael. We will be there for children and families on the long road to recovery.

Knowing that recovery takes years, Save the Children will continue to partner with the most affected communities in Puerto Rico for years to come. Through your support, we can build back better. Thank you!

A young boy races during a team building activity
A young boy races during a team building activity

Hurricane Maria was the last and deadliest of the Category 4 hurricanes that struck the U.S. in 2017. It reduced communities in Puerto Rico to shambles and caused an estimated 2,975 deaths. The months-long blackout was the longest and largest in U.S. history. Children missed more than 13 million days of learning. Our first team on the ground faced the challenges of not only mobilizing relief, but doing so where Save the Children had no local staff or programs.

Your compassionate support was the difference. Thanks to you, we quickly reached children and families with relief directly and through partners ranging from the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity to local groups intimately familiar with their communities. Your support enabled us to restore children’s access to learning, help children and their caregivers cope with their post-storm stress and begin preparing children and schools for the next disaster. Read the impact of your support in our Hurricane Maria One-Year Anniversary report.

Save the Children is now a strong presence in Puerto Rico and has solid relationships with mayors, community leaders, organizations and parents from the coast to the mountains. Together, we’ll work nonstop over the next year with these determined partners to support children and families through our community-based recovery strategy.

Today, Save the Children is responding to the effects of Hurricane Florence. Our emergency responders were on the ground before the hurricane hit and continue to work tirelessly to address the needs of families in shelters. Thousands were forced to evacuate their homes, fearing the worst. With up to 30 inches of rainfall measured in some communities – and some rivers yet to crest – the damage isn’t over yet. Please visit our Hurricane Florence Global Giving Page to help us continue delivering essential support to these American families in crisis.

Thank you again for supporting kids in need.

Hurricane Maria was the worst disaster to affect Puerto Rico since 1928. Children and families were left without electricity, drinking water, food and fuel. Nearly 15,000 people were living in shelters and all 1,113 public schools were closed. Save the Children was on the island within 96 hours. We distributed clean water, family hygiene supplies, shelter/home repair kits and solar light kits. Today, we’re still there, providing an ongoing, robust response that has benefitted more than 60,000 children and adults to date. We provide emotional support to children dealing with stress and uncertainty. Plus, our education team is working with local partners to restore programs and help ensure that children have access to learning.

Due to the scale of the destruction, Save the Children has formed a long-term response strategy. There is still so much to do. Thanks to supporters like you, Save the Children has committed to supporting the ongoing recovery of children, families and communities in Texas for two years. But we need your help. We have identified 40 communities where the needs are greatest – mostly those directly in the track of the hurricane – and we’re committed to helping more than 200,000 children and adults who live there through September of 2019.

Thousands of residents continue to live without electricity, water and sanitation. Recovery progress overall has been slow; the level of destruction is massive and families are struggling under the hardship and loss that the storm has caused. That’s why we’re committed to a 2-year strategy that includes:

  • Child protection: helping children, parents and teachers build resiliency skills while supporting them to process their feelings, fears and sense of loss. We’re organizing safe places for children to gather, play and just be kids again.
  • Return to learning: Many schools were damaged and closed for long periods of time, some can now only be open for part of the day. Our goal is to provide children ages 0-18 access to education, so they can continue to grow and learn.
  • Nutritional support: Young children, particularly infants and toddlers, are highly vulnerable in emergencies. We’re working to promote safe feeding practices, through education sessions and breastfeeding kits, which include essential hygiene items and other supplies.

This important, lifesaving work requires additional funding. Every investment in our two-year strategy is an investment in the lives, well-being and future of children.Support the Next Phase of Our Recovery Work

  • Give: Your caring gift to the Hurricane Harvey Children’s Relief Fund will support child-focused relief and recovery programs to survivors.
  • Share: Spread the word in your favorite social network about how Save the Children is helping children and families on the ground.

Thanks to compassionate people like you, Save the Children is there, on the ground every day, working to provide essentials – like food and safety – to children trying to survive. Thank you!

In September of 2017, Hurricane Maria broke records as the largest disaster in Puerto Rico since 1928. 155-mile-per hour winds knocked out power for the entire U.S. territory. Thousands of island residents continue to live without electricity, water and sanitation. Save the Children is committed to helping more than 200,000 children and adults who live in the 40 communities where the needs are greatest.

Recovery progress overall has been slow; the level of destruction is massive and families are struggling under the hardship and loss that the storm has caused. Many schools were damaged and continue to be closed for long periods of time.

Save the Children continues to be on the ground, providing ongoing support. We distribute clean water, family hygiene supplies, shelter/home repair kits and solar light kits. We provide emotional support to children dealing with stress and uncertainty. And our goal is to provide children ages 0-18 access to education, so they can continue to grow and learn. Read about our two-year commitment to help children, families and communities recover in Puerto Rico.

Save the Children is prioritizing rural, low-income communities where damage was extreme and where children and families have the fewest resources to aid in their recovery. We seek to ensure that children, families, caregivers and communities are resilient and ready for the next disaster. We seek to benefit more than 200,000 children and adults in 40 communities through September of 2019. Your continued support will help underpin this recovery work. Thank you!

Your Support Helps us Deliver Aid, Launch Recovery Work for Children and Families after Hurricane Maria 

December 2017

Hurricane Maria was the worst disaster to affect Puerto Rico since 1928, and the fifth-strongest hurricane on record to strike the United States. It carved a trail of destruction across the island on September 20th. Our relief team arrived to find children and families struggling with tremendous damage and challenges ranging from no power to shortages of clean drinking water, food and fuel.

Our quick work – made possible by your support – has benefited nearly 25,000 children and adults and provided us with the firm footing to initiate longer-term recovery programs that will be ongoing for the next two years. We are pleased to share this progress report with you, with gratitude for your generous and heartfelt contribution.

 Maria’s Ongoing Impact on Children

Three months after the devastation caused by Maria’s 155-mile-per-hour winds, the impacts of this extreme disaster continue to be felt by children, families and communities. Nearly all public schools across the island were closed into November. Children lost nearly two months of education and for those schools that have opened, many are running on half-day schedules. Behavioural and mental health needs are also rising. Many children and caregivers are losing hope and, alarmingly, suicide rates across the island are reportedly on the rise.

 Save the Children, the national and international leader in child-focused emergency relief and response in the U.S., deployed our trained staff to mobilize relief. Your support, pooled with other resources, allowed us to address urgent needs among children and their families in shelters and battered communities by collaborating with local partners on aid distributions. We delivered truckloads of supplies for infants and toddlers to shelters in metropolitan areas; we worked with authorities to deliver supplies by helicopter to remote mountain communities; and worked with the Department of Family and FEMA to deliver supplies via plane to the island of Vieques. At the three-month mark, here are highlights of that work, with much more recovery assistance on the way:


Meeting Immediate Needs

  • We helped to provide 58,032 prepared meals to Boys and Girls Club of America in Las Margaritas (San Juan municipality), Isabella, Loiza and Arecibo.
  • We donated 6,720 cases of water to Convoy of Hope to distribute to over 10,000 families.
  • Over 500 “parent-baby kits” and newborn diapers were delivered to families in Aguas Buenas; Orocovis; Toa Alta, Humacao and Yabucoa. These kits include items for families with children under age 2, such as warm, soft blankets, baby hygiene supplies and a toy or book.
  • We have worked with over 30 partners to provide diapers, hygiene supplies, water and toys. This has been especially important in hard-to-reach communities where churches and small community groups we support have been essential in meeting families’ needs.
  • With Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico, we provided shelter repair kits to 1,460 low-income families in Guayama, Orocovis and Humacao. The kits included hand tools, tarps, ropes and other materials families needed to make interim repairs to homes damaged by Hurricane Maria.

 Strengthening Local Capacity and Community Engagement

  • Our grants to trusted community organizations help them reach children and families. These awards are largely for private child care or educational centers that provide extracurricular activities to children. Most of these facilities suffered extensive damage and lack equipment and supplies. We are processing $300,000 in grants in response to 30 applications and we are soliciting additional applications.
  • Save the Children, in collaboration with FEMA and the Puerto RicanDepartment of Family, formed a Children’s Task Force to address children’s needs. The group brings together stakeholders concerned about children to share information. To ensure that coordination is locally owned and driven by those who know the island best, we are working with local organizations to take over our leadership role.

 Protecting Children and Return to Learning

  • Our child-friendly space in a shelter in Canovanas gives children whose families have not been able to return home access to structured activities that help relieve the stress of living in the shelter. Adult facilitators that we trained offer psychosocial support.
  • We’ve trained 20 local social workers to offer psychosocial first aid to children. They have used this training to work with hundreds of local volunteers to provide distressed children with reassurance, support and comfort.
  • At our 21 Community-based Children’s Activity Centers, children of all ages take part in learning and development activities.
  • Educational kits – book bags filled with notebooks, pens, paper and folders – are being provided to children in Humacao and Yabucoa.

 Looking Ahead: The Next Three Months

We will continue to work with children and families as they recover from the impact of this monster storm. While we seek contributions for our two-year response plan to reach 600,000 children and adults, we are rolling out programs where damage was extreme and where children and families have the fewest resources. Our community-focused strategy will help get children back to learning and overcome the stress of their experiences.

 Over the next three months we will be:

  • Targeting 10 of the hardest-hit communities with transformation events to kick-start a process of child resilience and recovery. The events will include clean-ups, mural painting and refurbishing and resupplying schools, daycare services, afterschool activities and playgrounds. This is the first phase of our working with the communities to jointly develop plans for building back better and to ensure children’s needs remain a key focus.
  • Working in 40 locations to develop Community-based Children’s Activities adapted to the specific needs of each community.
  • Supporting key partners for larger, longer-term grants as we work with them to design programming for early education, basic education and afterschool activities.


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Organization Information

Save the Children Federation

Location: Fairfield, CT - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @savethechildren
Project Leader:
Lisa Smith
Fairfield, CT United States

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