SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - For many Puerto Rican evacuees currently calling Central Florida home after fleeing the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria, just making it through the day can be a struggle.
Celebrating the holidays can be almost impossible.
The United Way and VFW Post 4305, though, gave many families a break from their worries with a holiday party in Seminole County.
Ana Soler has been living in a FEMA-funded hotel since she arrived in Florida and has spent the days doing her best to pay for one meal at a time.
In three weeks, FEMA will stop paying for her hotel room, along with those of thousands of other Puerto Rican evacuees.
She and her family came to Florida with nothing, and while she plans to make it a permanent move, the logistics have been daunting.
“I’m trying to get a home, so I’m going to stay in Florida,” Soler said. “So, I’m going to start all over again.”
With all the stress and financial burden, there has not been anything left over for toys.
The United Way and VFW Post 4305 came together Thursday to throw a holiday party so children of evacuees could, for one night at least, have the Christmas experience they otherwise wouldn’t get.
“My granddaughter (asked) me, ‘Mom, when am I going to see Santa?’” Soler said. “So that’s the reason I bring her here. Also, I came here because I have to thank the United Way.”
FINALLY some happiness for these families from Puerto Rico & gifts for the kids! They lost everything, they're starting new lives in Central Florida, they're living in hotels w/ no idea what tomorrow brings. Hard to hold back the tears right now. Thank you @hfuw & VFW 4305! @WFTV pic.twitter.com/Q7bBHnXZ4N— Lauren Seabrook (@LSeabrookWFTV) December 22, 2017
It's hard to think about Christmas in 4 days, when you're worried about not having a place to live in 3 weeks. How @hfuw & VFW 4305 helped Hurricane Maria survivors from Puerto Rico forget about living in a hotel and remember what it feels like to be happy - @WFTV at 10 & 11pm. pic.twitter.com/K9t4RGrhiW— Lauren Seabrook (@LSeabrookWFTV) December 22, 2017
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