Months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico’s electrical infrastructure, many of the island residents are still in the dark and in need of critical, everyday items such as water, food and first aid supplies.

DTE Energy is supporting our American counterparts by deploying more than 80 skilled workers who will spend many weeks working to restore power in the northeastern region of the island. However, turning the lights back on is not the only thing Puerto Ricans need right now.

There are many ways Michiganders and other mainlanders can help those still struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria – and it doesn’t involve climbing utility poles or spending a month in a severely damaged area.

Here are five easy ways you can be a part of powering Puerto Rico:

  1. Donate money. While this option is not new or creative, it is still the preferred way to contribute to any type of relief efforts. Providing financial support allows nonprofits and other organizations to purchase materials and resources that are needed most. With money, organizations such as the American Red Cross and Unicef can use the power of buying in bulk and focus on accumulating resources that will provide the biggest impact to the largest population of people. Be sure to do your research to ensure your donations are going to a reputable organization and that your aid dollars will go toward relief efforts on the island.
  2. Adopt a family. If you want to make your contribution a bit more personal, you can adopt a family or individual through organizations like Adopt a Family USVI. This program sends donors a profile of a family or person affected by Hurricane Maria, along with a wish list of items they need. Your job is to purchase items from the wish list, add in a personal message of hope and ship the package for distribution.
  3. Donate goods. Need an excuse to go shopping? While sending goods during a disaster can often cause more harm than good, nonprofits are using tools like Amazon Wish-lists to allow donors to purchase and send goods that are in high demand. The list works much like a wedding or baby registry. The nonprofit selects what items they need and how many, and donors add it to their cart, checkout and ship it directly to their sorting center. As needs change, the nonprofit can add and remove items from the list.
  4. Get your company involved. Whether it’s providing skilled workers, donating mass quantities of needed goods or collecting money through fundraisers – businesses can help in a big way during disasters. If you believe your company can support Puerto Rico in a special way, talk to your leadership and submit a proposal to National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD). NVOAD will match you with a nonprofit to help you organize the effort and maximize your contribution.
  5. Build awareness. Not everyone is in the position to provide financially, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help. Social media has become a powerful tool in spreading awareness and encouraging charitable contributions. Share articles like this one on your social media channels and let your friends and family know what they can do to help. Use #poweringPR to connect to even more people.

Puerto Rico may be nearly 2,000 miles away, but that doesn’t have to stop us from sending help and hope to those who need it most. Follow DTE’s journey in Puerto Rico at empoweringmichigan.com/poweringPR.