During this hectic time of holiday parties, Christmas shopping and untangling those tiny blinking tree lights, it’s important to remember that helping the less fortunate is the true essence of the season.
To say most of the millions of Americans in Puerto Rico, which declared a form of bankruptcy in May, have had it rough over the last year is an understatement. This September, two weeks after Hurricane Irma made landfall there, Hurricane Maria pummeled the U.S. commonwealth, leaving the majority of Puerto Ricans without electricity, phone service, drinking water or accessible roads. Many homes and businesses were destroyed.
Thankfully, Shop and Hire Puerto Rico has made it easy to support those hard hit by both man-made and natural disasters. In an effort to ramp up the local economy, the organization promotes artisans and small businesses on the island by linking them with online shoppers through a single portal.
Nonprofit group Colmena66 launched the site with the Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust (PRSTRT). “We need to be creative now more than ever so our entrepreneurs don’t feel the need to leave the island,” Denise Rodríguez, director and executive adviser to the CEO at PRSTRT, told NBC News. “This is a great opportunity for Puerto Rico, so that from the beginning, we teach our businesses about a marketplace outside the 100-by-35 miles that is our island.”
On the website, visitors can “Shop from a Boricua” and find something for everyone in the family: clothing, accessories, home decor, and kitchen items among other gifts and local goods. In addition, the “Hire a Boricua” portal serves as platform to bring Puerto Rican freelancers and businesses together.
Below are gift ideas to help you both scratch those chicas off your list and embody the best part of the holidays.