WENATCHEE, Wash. - When Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers at Wenatchee’s Pangborn Memorial Airport (EAT) learned of an opportunity to help a TSA employee in Puerto Rico who was impacted by Hurricane Maria, they mobilized.
During shift briefs and in conversations among themselves, the response was positive - they wanted to help. About a dozen members of the EAT TSA team decided to pool their resources and participate in TSA’s Adopt-a-Family program, which provides support to TSA employees and their families affected by natural disasters.
The Wenatchee team was paired with a female TSA officer who works at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport (SJU) in San Juan, the island’s capital. She has two daughters, ages six and 10.
“On Thursday, I learned that a family had been assigned for us to support,” said Jacob Shaver, a Supervisory Transportation Security Officer at EAT who spearheaded the effort. “Within four days, we had received enough donations to send to Puerto Rico. The response and generosity was amazing.”
Donations from the EAT TSA officers ranged from food items as well as basic necessities like flashlights, battery-powered fans and batteries. They also included some items they knew the daughters would enjoy receiving including stuffed animals and snack foods. Officers also donated cash to cover the expensive shipping costs. The local team sent two boxes to Puerto Rico weighing nearly 100 pounds via the U.S. Postal Service.
“I can’t begin to express my appreciation to the TSA team at EAT who selflessly chose to support another TSA employee during a most difficult time in her life,” said Jeff Holmgren, TSA Federal Security Director for Washington state. “Despite being more than 3,600 miles away, they have helped Puerto Rico in its recovery from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.”
The family in Puerto Rico has been told by local authorities that their power is not expected to be restored until early next year and there is not cell service where they live. The TSA officer has returned to work at SJU.
The shipment from Wenatchee is expected to arrive in Puerto Rico by the end of the week. The EAT officers were connected to the SJU officer through a central TSA office that is responsible for linking those who can help support other employees following a natural disaster. That office also provides a wish list of items requested by the TSA employee receiving the aid.