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Monroe Latino community assists Oso
MONROE - A segment of the Latino community in Monroe recently traveled to Oso to donate money to the local fire department and a local church, and they plan to return to Oso to help more.
The group, led by Danny Hernandez, raised a little more than $5,000 in just one day.
While in Oso April 12, Hernandez heard about two women that had been in Oso, cooking food and feeding the volunteers and victims, since the beginning of the disaster relief effort. They had not had a break since they had been there, and Hernandez now seeks to come to their aid by taking the helm in providing food.
“I’ve lived in Monroe for 20 years, and I love everything about Monroe,” Hernandez said. “It’s a small town, but still close to the big city. When I heard about (the other small town, Oso,) and the news of what happened (the mudslide on March 22), I knew we had to do something. I have two kids of my own, and when I heard that kids died in that, I thought, ‘wow, we have to do it – let’s raise money.’”
Hernandez pulled together his resources and contacts as the owner of a promotions company, Promociones Nayarit, and was able to set a date where people could help out.
Using his resources, Hernandez put together a free concert benefit that was held in Tacoma where several Latino and Mexican bands played a concert for Oso on April 11.
“The one thing (we) wanted Oso to know that the Latinos are with them through this tragedy and we stand by them,” Hernandez said of the benefit concert.
“It’s sometimes hard to get them to come together and we did it through Promociones. When I told them what it was for, everyone was happy to be part of it and do it for free.”
The site at Oso was confusing and muddy, but they got the money to the right people.
“When we got there (to Oso), it was both strange and good. It was a camp of tents, and we weren’t sure where to go at first,” he said. “But we went to the Oso Fire Department, and we were dressed up. When we walked in, they had a set-up like a camp, and they were looking at me like, ‘What you doing here?’ I told them we came to donate money, and I turn around, and see (volunteers) coming in with mud up to their waists, I see people crying and it was very emotional. They were so grateful, even in the (stress of the situation), their eyes lit up. It was the best experience. And we want to do more for them.”
The $5,158 that was split in half with the Oso fire department and to Immaculate Conception Church for victims’ families and funeral costs.
Hernandez now is asking the Monroe Chamber for help to get food to Oso volunteers.
Chamber director Una Wirkebau-Hartt likes the idea.
“Danny said it was such an amazing experience going up to Oso, even though they didn’t know what to expect, or where to hand off the money (they had raised),” Wirkebau-Hartt said. “Nobody knew that they had done this. They just, they did it.”
The chamber will be working with Hernandez to gather resources to make, cook, and produce food dishes – mainly Mexican food – to take up to Oso in the next few weeks.
“The Latino community and chamber wants to take them food ... and give the ladies a break. We want to take the guys some real Mexican food,” Hernandez said. “I think it’s time for us to step up a little bit as far as the Latino community. The United States has been good to us, and helping out in times of tragedy, it’s a good thing.”
Hernandez and the chamber will soon determine the date of the food delivery trip to Oso.

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