2 restaurants in metro Atlanta collect donations for Puerto Rico

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Loved ones in Cobb County are still struggling to reach family members in Puerto Rico following Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

Channel 2’s Steve Gehlbach visited two restaurants in Cobb County, where workers are collecting donations for the devastated island.

Just before noon Tuesday, the dining room at Buen Provencho Restaurant should have been getting ready for the lunch rush. But instead, they were prepping boxes and boxes of donations for Puerto Rico.

Elmer Passapera, owner of Buen Provencho, has family in Puerto Rico and still hasn't been able to reach them. As he continues to pray for his family, he decided to do more by collecting donations. So far, he's collected 10 truckloads, and it keeps coming.

"I said we had to do something, wanted to do something," Passapera said. We will continue to collect, and this will be an ongoing effort and we will stop when people stop donating."

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The Porch Light Latin Kitchen in Smyrna is also a drop-off site before everything is staged at a warehouse, then put on to cargo planes.

Donations at Buen Provencho are taking up almost every inch of space in the restaurant, from the hallway back to the bathroom.

The donations include paper products nearly to ceiling, pet food, batteries, hand tools, clothing and plenty of food.

"We need everything," Passapera said. "Whatever you can get your hands on is what we need."

They need everything but more clothing. FEMA has put a hold on clothing items.

Liz Rodriguez, a restaurant regular, stopped to drop off some donations. Her husband is from Puerto Rico.

"He has family down there, so, I wanted to do whatever we can to help until we can get them personally," Rodriguez said.

"People still have good hearts and want to reach out and help in any way they can. And, we're grateful," Passapera said.