Holyoke coalition holds holiday gathering for displaced Puerto Rico hurricane victims

Hampden County

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A spirit lifting gathering in Holyoke Sunday for hundreds of men, women and children who recently arrived from the hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico.

The festive occasion at the Holyoke War Memorial Building celebrated the Three Kings holiday for families that relocated to Holyoke following the destruction from Hurricane Maria.

Marcos Alicea told 22News of his experience coming to Holyoke. “I would say like a month and a half after because all were already built, there was no way to get out of the island because of the situation,” said Alicea. “And what’s really hard for us, is to get everything that we needed to get here.”

There were gifts for the children in the tradition of the Three Kings observance, which is traditionally observed the week following Christmas. But this is not a traditional time for these families making a transition in their lives with the help of a relief organization called the Enlace de Familias Resource Center. “These families lost everything,” said Betty Lichtenstein of the Enlace de Familias Resource Center. “Most of them are staying in hotels, some are double and tripled up. Families that we have, receive gifts for their children, this community has been so generous.”

The more than two hundred newcomers to Holyoke are starting over. The children attend Holyoke schools, as their elders work towards finding employment and moving into homes of their own.

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