Elk Grove Restaurant Holding Fundraiser for Hurricane Maria Victims in Puerto Rico

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ELK GROVE -- "I mean it's devastating."

Elaine Vega lives in Elk Grove, but right now her heart is in Puerto Rico.

"Our citizens are suffering," Vega said.

That's where many of her relatives live.

"A lot of family members struggling. A lot of family members doing without, asking now for the first time for help," Vega said.

She emphasizes that Puerto Rico is a civilized country, one that has strict building codes with hurricanes in mind -- but nothing could have prepared them for Hurricane Maria.

"This is different. This devastated the city. This devastated the resources. This devastated the infrastructure," Vega said. "They're hungry. They need medical attention. They need somewhere to lay their head."

"There's no electricity. So there's no way to actually keep your milk cold. There's no way to preserve your meats," said Tito Class, who owns Lola's Lounge.

Lola's Lounge is a Caribbean restaurant in Elk Grove. He too has relatives in Puerto Rico.

"Things are spoiling. There's garbage in the streets," Class said.

Vega and Class have both learned their respective relatives are alive. They say the people of Puerto Rico have been traveling miles to the few working cell towers to simply send a text or a Facebook message.

"I'm alive. I'm OK. But things are bad," Elaine said, quoting her relatives.

Elaine and the owners of Lola's Lounge put their minds together.

"We want to help, but where do we begin? What can I do? Where do I start?" Vega said.

And they are hosting a benefit party this coming Sunday at the restaurant, starting at 3 p.m.

"No better time than the present. Let's do this," Vega said.

"I can feel their pain through them. But at the same time, we're all human. It's nice to help where you can," said Todd Kingsbury, a chef at Lola's Lounge.

Kingsbury and the entire staff are donating their time Sunday. Volunteers and salsa bands are welcome to contact the restaurant this week if they wish to donate time. Most importantly, the money raised will benefit United for Puerto Rico, an organization providing hurricane relief directly where it's needed.

"If in any way, if I can actually somehow get baby food to a child," Class said, tearing up with emotion.

"We're announcing and declaring Sacramento presente. We're here. We're gonna' help," Vega said.

If you can't make it to the fundraiser, you can donate to unitedforpuertorico.com.