Keegan Figueroa, 14, of Mooreville, Mississippi., an eighth-grader at Mooreville Middle School, helped collect almost 30,000 pounds of basic necessities and deliver them to Puerto Rico a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. Keegan’s father was born in Puerto Rico and lived there until he was 16. “Most of his family still lives there,” said Keegan, who has visited the island several times. “When the hurricane hit, I was terrified,” he said. “I instantly knew that I wanted to help.” As in many disaster situations, it took several days for Keegan’s family to make contact with relatives there. Thankfully, they were all safe, he said, but many had lost almost everything, and they had no access to water or electricity.
To help the family’s efforts in delivering supplies to Puerto Rico, Keegan decided to get students at his school involved in the cause. He posted flyers and posters that explained what items were needed and placed donation boxes at every entrance to the school. Keegan and his family also solicited help from churches, clubs and organizations, as well as local businesses. After donations such as medicine, hygiene products, diapers, baby formula, batteries and generators were stored in the Figueroa garage, Keegan organized a group of 20 friends to come and pack items into boxes. Once Keegan and his father arrived in Puerto Rico, they began distributing the donations to people in need. While on the island, Keegan also worked with the National Guard to deliver care packages, purify water and start rebuilding houses. “The smiles and gratitude on the people’s faces was worth all the troubles and hardships it took,” said Keegan.