Nearly 500,000 pounds of hurricane relief supplies were collected for Puerto Rico during a two-day drive at PNC Park earlier this week. The Pittsburgh Pirates organized the effort in part to honor legendary Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente, who was born on the island and dedicated his life to humanitarian efforts.
Two planes filled with food, water and other essentials will land on the island Thursday. According to Pirates owner Bob Nutting, fans donated about 85 percent of the supplies. Local businesses and foundations contributed the rest.
"This effort really was inspired by the legacy of Roberto Clemente, and the fact that so many people from his home country are in desperate need of help, I hope he would be proud to see his Pirates organization and the people of Pittsburgh rally together in the relief effort," Nutting said.
Pirates coach Joey Cora, also a Puerto Rico native, noted the strong connection between Pittsburgh and the island.
"We didn't know there were so many Puerto Ricans here in Pittsburgh," Cora said. "When they came through that line donating stuff, and telling you that they haven't been able to communicate with anybody in Puerto Rico, they're just donating stuff whether or not it's going to get to their parents or their families."
The relief supplies, as well as $250,000 of cash donations, will be taken to the hurricane-ravaged cities of Cayey and Caguas.