Blue Cross employee leads OTC medication and first aid drive for Puerto RicoNovember 22, 2017
This holiday season, Blue Cross employee Ed Arias has his heart in two places. Born in the New York City borough of the Bronx to Puerto Rican parents, Ed always knew that the Caribbean island was part of his home. So when Hurricane Maria tore through Puerto Rico this past September, it felt like the storm charged right through Ed as well.
Thankfully, Ed could reach his relatives in Puerto Rico and confirm their safety. However, it was clear that recovering from Maria would take a very long time. Now, two months after the hurricane made landfall, cell phone service and electricity are fleeting, and store shelves remain scarcely stocked. Millions of Puerto Ricans rely on aid stations for food and basic medical care.
During one of those few moments of reliable cell phone service, Ed asked his family how he could help Puerto Rico from Minnesota. Ed’s relatives knew that he was not the type to stand still when others were in need. Over the course of a couple phone calls with family, Ed pulled a plan together.
Meeting the need for basic first aid
Ed wanted to focus on a need he was hearing a lot about throughout Puerto Rico. With fresh water in short supply, people are resorting to drinking untreated water. As a result, over-the-counter medications like Pepto-Bismol and Imodium have become prized items to treat symptoms of exposure to unclean water.
Additionally, Puerto Ricans are working long hours to restore, reclaim and repair their homes – so simple items like first aid supplies, including pain relief medicine like Tylenol and Advil, are in high demand.
Employee resource groups rally
Ed briefed his Blue Cross colleagues on the situation and asked for help from two of Blue Cross’ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to assist in collecting and shipping these needed medications, in partnership with the nonprofit group Impact Lives.
Ed’s Blue Cross family quickly rallied support. ERG members from Fuerza Azul (the Latin American ERG) and the African American Professionals Network made posters, which were distributed at donation containers across the Blue Cross campus. They also staffed tables to answer employee questions about the effort.
Giving thanks for our employees' generosity
As we take the time to appreciate our families and give thanks for the people we have around us, the ERGs are still going strong with their Puerto Rico first aid and over-the-counter medication relief effort.
We are confident we will see a bountiful harvest of the many needed items Ed’s family has shared stories about. And for that, we are thankful.
2017 disaster relief efforts
To find out how you can help, visit the Impact Lives’ website at http://impactlives.org.