"The world can always benefit from a positive mission."-Salvador Gomez Colon, 15, raised over $125K to buy and donate hundreds of solar lamps and portable washing machines to families still living in darkness in #PuertoRico. https://t.co/iYibE9Bwbz pic.twitter.com/oOKu4HkWsV— Parija Kavilanz (@ParijaKavilanz) February 1, 2018
A ninth-grader living in San Juan, Puerto Rico, is helping his hurricane-ravaged neighbors in a major way.
Salvador Gomez Colon, 15, is raising money to purchase portable lamps and hand-operated washing machines for residents who were hit the hardest by Hurricane Maria, CNN reports.
"There is so much need," said Gomez Colon. "People are still shoveling debris around their homes. With no power, the elderly are struggling with the heat."
Although it’s been approximately four months since the hurricane, nearly half a million Puerto Ricans are still without power. Roads and bridges remain critically damaged, and many families are living in homes with roofs made from tarps and scrap materials.
"The farther you go from the metro areas is where you really see it," Gomez Colon said. "It's very crazy to think that there are still people without power. Four months without power is an extremely traumatizing experience."
Gomez Colon launched his crowdfunding initiative using the platform Generosity just days after Hurricane Maria struck. The campaign initially had a goal to reach $100,000, but has since raised more than $125,000. The effort has allowed Gomez Colon to donate 1,400 solar lamps to about 840 homes. He also has another 1,600 lamps that he is planning to disperse soon.
Gomez Colon uses help from his family, friends, and volunteers to distribute the lamps around the island. His initiative is called C+Feel=Hope, and in addition to more than 3,000 lamps, he has secured nearly 300 hand-powered washing machines from companies such as Gentlewasher and EasyGo.
The lamps have come from various companies, including Mpowerd, Schneider Electric, and Omnivoltaic Energy Solutions — and some even have cellphone charging abilities.
"Every weekend that we've gone for a distribution has made me feel so good," Gomez Colon said. "But it's complicated. We are helping people, but there are just so many others also in need."
Gomez Colon is an inspiration to all, showing how individuals can spring into action in a time of crisis. When the federal government and other officials are lagging, it's people like Gomez Colon who step up and take matters into their own hands. He is a prime example of an everyday hero who is restoring hope for many people.