PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - A community effort is underway right now to help those affected by Hurricane Maria.
They call themselves "Mississippi United for Puerto Rico". In just two weeks, ICA Latin Sports Bar and Grill has brought in thousands of pounds of water, food, and other items for those desperately in need of help.
ICA owner Shemara Guzman has family in Puerto Rico. As a business owner in Pascagoula, she wants to do anything she can to help those affected by Hurricane Maria.
"The food is very hard to get there," said Guzman. "You have to do long lines. And when you do go to the place where you have to do the lines, when you get to the end of the lines, there's no food left."
Guzman has joined with other Pascagoula residents to collect donations. The response has been more than they could have hoped for.
"The community from different places are coming together to help us out, and I really appreciate that," Guzman said. "I really feel so happy because as a community we get together. It doesn't matter if we're Hispanic, white, black; they all come together and help us out."
Wilmary Acosta tries to contact her family in Santa Isabel any chance she gets. She says thinking of the devastation on the island is difficult.
"I'm so sad because I was born in Puerto Rico, I grew up in Puerto Rico," said Acosta. "My island was so pretty and now it's totally destroyed. It doesn't look like my island."
Acosta loves the support she's seen from South Mississippians.
"Different people, different nations, donate to Puerto Rico and I'm very proud of that," Acosta said. "I'm very proud to be Puerto Rican and have good friends."
But with more donations coming in, the question now becomes, how to get the supplies to the people who really need it. Enter Pascagoula native Ernie Wilson. He's working his sources to try to find a way to ship the donations.
"What we're trying to get done is we're trying to get this sent over there," said Wilson. "So I'm hoping that we can somehow work it with the National Guard or any shipbuilding industry, maybe Halter Marine group, or any of the local businesses here that can maybe think of a way to get it over there."
Mississippi United for Puerto Rico is also holding a softball tournament on Oct. 7 & 8 to help raise funds for the cause.
For information on taking part in the tournament, or how to donate, call Shemara Guzman at 228-235-9288.