Kiko Alonso has been doing his part to help out the people of Puerto Rico since the island was hit by Hurricane Maria in September, but he took things to another level over the weekend.
The Dolphins linebacker, whose father is Puerto Rican, made a trip to the island to deliver much-needed supplies to those hit hardest by the hurricane. Alonso started a YouCaring.com page to raise funds for hurricane victims in Miami and Puerto Rico, and part of the $165,000 raised as of Tuesday afternoon was used to get the supplies to Puerto Rico.
Alonso wanted to make sure to take part in the delivery.
"First of all, these people obviously need help, so I wanted to go first-hand and provide supplies," Alonso said. "I raised that money. I just wanted to see it put to work. I also wanted to let those people know we care about them, we haven't forgotten about them. We're going to do everything we can to help them get through this situation. This isn't going to be solved over a weekend. This might take years. It's that bad. Also, it makes me feel good to help people out. It just kind of gives you perspective on things."
Alonso and his traveling party, which included his older brother Carlos, some cousins and friends from Puerto Rico, as well as representatives from Global Empowerment Mission and a Puerto Rican organization called Yo No Me Quito, made stops to several different cities Saturday and Sunday.
Alonso actually got a head start Friday when he started walking around and documented the scene on his Instagram page.
"We went to where they were telling me was the worst place," Alonso said. "It was a really poor place and on top of that, being hit by the hurricane just made it even worse. I was just walking around that community and actually posted on Instagram, houses just completely like nothing was left. The people there before weren't exactly living in great conditions and then the hurricane was just icing on the cake, or whatever you want to call it. It was horrible. In particular, this lady I was working with was passing out stuff and the lady started to cry. It was very emotional. Just seeing people, some people are by themselves, live alone, no water, no light, it's just sad."
Alonso's last visit to Puerto Rico had come last April when he conducted a football camp for local kids.
He had an idea of what to expect this past weekend, though it didn't do justice to what he was about to encounter.
"I was talking to some people before and they were saying, well, it's messed up," Alonso said. "But you can't really imagine until you really see it because it's really that bad. It was hard for me to be going around giving out the stuff and even just walking around areas. It was like, man, it's crazy to think that people are actually living like this.
"A lot of them were very grateful. Basically everyone was very grateful and it was sad because there were a lot of areas that we were the first people to get to them. Nobody had brought them anything. There was a street, there was this community we visited and we're walking and we see they had chalked on the street, 'S.O.S., there's kids here, we need help.' There was graffiti on the walls saying like, 'We've been forgotten.' It was very sad. People were very grateful. Some people started to cry once we were giving them stuff."
Among the items Alonso and his traveling party handed out were bottles of water, food, diapers, solar-powered lights, battery-operated lights, immediate shelter needs such as water filters and tarps, rebuilding supplies and toys.
"I thought the solar-powered was probably the best part we gave out because we were in areas, they haven't had light or water since Irma," Alonso said. "It's funny, Puerto Rico, there's still a lot of areas that are completely devastated. I think a lot of people, because time has passed and maybe people started to think, 'All right, now Puerto Rico is OK.' But it's really not. There's still tons of areas, tons of people without water, without light. A lot of people lost their houses, a lot of people lost their roofs, which is almost as bad as losing your house. The island is still completely devastated. It's definitely just a small step and I want to keep doing more. I'm going to keep doing more.
"We still have a pretty good amount of money and we're now going to plan on what we want to do next, whether it's keep giving out supplies, maybe building houses for people that don't have houses."
Alonso's father no longer lives in Puerto Rico, but he has aunts and cousins there. He said they all were affected to some degree, with a cousin telling him about going through hot nights without water or electricity.
Overall, though, Alonso said his relatives weren't affected nearly as much as others and their lives are basically back to normal.
The same can't be said for a lot of people in Puerto Rico, which is why Alonso wants to keep helping and keep raising awareness on the situation over there.
"I think the most important thing is telling people it's still really bad," Alonso said. "At some points people were telling me, yeah, people might think that they're OK because time has passed, but that's actually still very bad. There is still a lot of work to be done."
Anyone interested in assisting in the cause can make donations, HERE.