Trinity High School teachers organize school donation drive befo - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Trinity High School teachers organize school donation drive before leaving for Puerto Rico

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Maria Martin Maria Martin
Chad Waggoner Chad Waggoner

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Maria Martin wiped away tears as she remembered watching helplessly as Hurricane Maria ravaged her childhood home of Puerto Rico, a place where her heart still remains.

 "When I heard the news, and I saw what was happening to my island, I just felt so helpless," Martin said. "I was just crying. I just could not believe."

The Trinity High School teacher's pain was compounded even more knowing many of her loved ones were in the storm's path, not knowing if they were OK. 

"No water. No electricity," she said. "My sister says that sometimes just to get gasoline is 6-7 hours in line to filling the tank. Not having much food available. The heat is unbearable." 

The pictures barely capture the true devastation, but there was little Martin could do for her family or the millions of others on the island ... until help came from an unexpected place.

"I had an airline ticket that I didn't use last year, and it was getting ready to expire," said Chad Waggoner, another teacher at Trinity.

So after clearing it with American Airlines, Waggoner decided to use the ticket to help his colleague.

"I started talking to Maria and asked her how bad is it down there? What's the news not necessarily telling us that her sister could tell us?" he said. "And she shared, and I was like, 'Well let's go to Puerto Rico!'"

With a week left before the ticket expired and with students just back from Fall Break, Waggoner worked quickly organizing a school donation drive.
And the students came through.

"Over 250 pounds of batteries ... we got diapers for the day cares, clothes ... over 100 flashlights," Waggoner said. "We got over 13 bags of stuff we're going to take down there."

"This guy is amazing," Martin said. "This trip that came about is just going to make me feel that I am doing something for my people"

They also collected more than $7,000, and American Airlines donated some cargo space.

Waggoner and Martin are flying down to San Juan on Wednesday and will travel the island with the supplies.

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