Local man living in Puerto Rico taking food to people in need; family accepting donations
MARION, Va. - Eric Marion lives in Puerto Rico, but he grew up in Marion, Virginia. He is working to get food and other supplies to people who have been left cut off from relief after Hurricane Maria. Marion said many people are unable to access their own money to buy food. "Most of the banks are closed," Marion said. "We have no electricity to run ATM machines, and here in the tourist zone I'm pretty lucky because we have some electricity, but once you get outside of San Juan, the island is at a stand still." Marion is going to take supplies to people in mountains West of San Juan. The region has been hit hard and left with little relief. "We're just going to coordinate with some friends of ours caravans to go out west, because a lot of people have family and friends out there," Marion said. "So there are specific places that we're going to try to target out there." He told his sister, Teri Owens, about the need via a Facebook message. "And I think of those parents who are helplessly watching their children starve, and although I'm one person I can make a difference," Marion said in the message. The family will be collecting donations at the Marion Church of the Nazarene at 229 West Coyner Avenue. Supplies can be left on the front porch of the church. The pastor's wife, Carol Shallenburg, lives next to the church and said she will check the porch for donations several times a day. Owens says they need non-perishable foods or foods that don't require cooking. She also said they need water, baby formula, diapers, and pet food. "Just like the humans don't have people food, the animals are running out of dog food," Owens' daughter Hailey Spencer said. "The shelters are getting low." Donations are also needed to cover the cost of shipping the items. Monetary donations can be made to Marion Church of the Nazarene. Shallenburg said that anyone who wished to leave a check or cash could stop by the pastor's house at 2431 West Coyner Avenue and leave the check with her or her husband. Any remaining supplies that cannot be shipped will be given to Remote Area Medical Service of Virginia, which will send the supplies to Puerto Rico. Marion said he anticipates donations of supplies will be needed for at least the next month. He added that he misses home and hopes to see his family soon. R.A.M. is also accepting donations for relief efforts in Puerto Rico. If you want to donate through R.A.M., you can click here.