LAKE WORTH BEACH -- When Hurricane Dorian hinted last week it might make an unwelcome visit to Palm Beach County, many farmers pulled their workers off the fields.
That decision made things worse for those already living paycheck to paycheck in the beach town.
Nancy Maldona’s husband was one of them. Luckily, she said, the pair and their 2-year-old and 3-month-old were able to stay at a friend’s home during the storm, but they were still hungry.
’All we’ve had to eat are eggs," she lamented.
Until her husband can work, their bellies will stay empty she says.
Maldona came to the Guatemalan Maya Center on Wednesday morning looking for diapers for her 3-month old daughter. They need to get on food stamps, because they have no income.
Many are traveling farm workers who live paycheck to paycheck, said Lucia Barnes, the daughter of an immigrant and Guatemalan-Maya Center administrative assistant. Because of Hurricane Dorian, they missed work and are in great financial distress.
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The center, 430 North G Street, is collecting items for these farmers and their families. Barnes said the center has also reached out to the Red Cross and other charities in Miami to help fill the needs of the families that cram the office.
But donations haven’t been plentiful. So far, all that’s been dropped off is a case of bottled water, a few cans and a couple of boxes of cereal.
It’s not enough to fill a table. Meanwhile, a room full of mothers and their children wait for their share of the feast.
Many of the donations are going to those devastated by Dorian in the Bahamas, Barnes explained.
"A lot of people are donating to that cause, but they’re forgetting that we have people here too that are in a lot of need," he said.
More than 1,000 families already visit the center each month for help with feeding, bathing and taking care of their own. But the calls multiplied during Dorian, Barnes said, close to 50 new people reached out for help just over the weekend.
Lots of them were new parents, Barnes said. One girl brought in her 4-day old baby and "she had nothing."
"We were only able to give her some diapers," Barnes said. "We didn’t have any baby food or clothes for her. It’s heartbreaking to see what’s happening."
The most needed items are baby formula, diapers and canned goods. Dry foods are preferable for those without access to refrigerators. Barnes said rice, beans, cereals, soups and cooking oil are good options.
The center is also looking for personal hygiene items like baby wipes, tarps, water bottles, first aid kits, blankets and towels and gift cards to buy food.
For now, Barnes said, they wait for donations.
How do you divvy up a few cans of food to 50 different families?
Barnes looks down at the donation table and shakes her head.
"It’s hard. You can’t even give it all to one family."
Contact the Guatemalan center at (561) 713-6389 or (561) 713-6414 for more information.