PENNSAUKEN, N.J. (CBS) — People from the Philadelphia area are heeding the call to help Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.

Students from Villanova University and a Pennsauken dance studio are helping in the relief effort.

Villanova students from Puerto Rico are raising money for the hurricane-ravaged island.

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Senior Katerina Diaz, who is from San Juan, said her mother and father weathered the storm, but their house is damaged.

She remembers first hearing from her mom after Maria charged away from the island.

“She got a signal and called me. That was a huge relief. They told me they were safe and that was a huge relief,” said Diaz. “I couldn’t concentrate in school, only could think of my family.”

Senior Ana Montalvo said her family is OK, too.

Each student gets a phone call from home on average once a day.

“People suffering without water, power, without gas, without food, it’s very heartbreaking,” said Montalvo.

The Villanova students have raised $1,300 so far.

Algorhythm dance studio in Pennsauken is also taking part in the collection efforts, becoming a hub for non-perishable items to be sent down to Puerto Rico.


“The island is really in distress.”

Owner Jessica Rodriguez says she and her husband are collecting diapers, bottles of water and personal hygiene products. The items will be sent in a 45-foot cargo container, secured by another local business owner.

“She is also taking a team, personally, to Puerto Rico, doctors, nurses and construction workers, and then they are going to distribute kits to every family they come across.”

Rodriguez says they just recently heard from family, who have no food, water or power.

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“Just feeling like you can’t do anything for them, and you don’t know what they need, and you want to get stuff to them, so it was really heart breaking.”

The pair will also host a Latin dance workshop and a competition this Saturday, with all proceeds benefiting the the Unite for Puerto Rico Foundation.