CAMDEN, N.J. (CBS) — With roughly a third of the residents living in Camden of Puerto Rican descent, the city’s school district said it was ready to help those displaced from Puerto Rico.
Julymar Barreto moved to New Jersey in November from Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria destroyed her house in Vegabaja, which is located north of San Juan.
Barreto was born in Puerto Rico and raised in Camden until she was a teenager. She returned to Puerto Rico at age 17.
She later got married and started raising two children with her husband on the island.
Now, she’s back in Camden trying to get her children acclimated in school. Neither of them speak English. Her 13-year-old daughter Kyaaralis Figeurosa enrolled in Veterans Memorial Family school last month.
“It’s difficult,” said Barreto, who is now living with her sister and her sister’s husband and kids in Camden.
Shortly after moving to Camden, the city school district reached out to give Barreto and her family food, clothes and school supplies.
“The same week I came, I put the kids in school and they helped me real fast, I mean fast,” explained Barreto.
It’s a strategy Puerto Rico native and Camden school district administrator Carmen Rodriguez holds close to her heart.
“It’s devastating. There’s times that I can’t sleep because I know that these families have so much need,” said Rodriguez.
This fall, 30 out of the 35 new students in grades six through eight at the school came from Puerto Rico.
A district-wide coat drive has also helped displaced families.
With Christmas just days away, Barreto will spend the holidays with her children and sister’s family. She has high hopes for her future.
“Better living, a house, get back up,” said Barreto.
The Camden School District will continue collecting coats at its administration building located at 201 N Front Street, Camden NJ 08102 until Friday.