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Forest Park resident Beti Atilano is spending the month of September collecting goods for North Carolina victims devastated by Hurricane Florence. If Atilano’s name sounds familiar, that’s because she spearheaded “Forest Park 4 Puerto Rico,” a fundraiser in April that raised at least $10,000 for World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit comprising celebrity chefs who raise awareness and donate food to the hurricane-devastated island.

The day after the fundraiser, Atilano travelled to Puerto Rico for the first time to survey the landscape, network with nonprofits and see how her skills could best be put to use. Her dedication to helping the locals earned her the nickname “Beti the Mexican.” She has since founded Global Citizen USA, a nonprofit that focuses on global disaster and extreme poverty relief.

Atilano is currently collecting goods for victims in North Carolina, which she visited on Sept. 14. She said she will return to Forest Park on the weekends to collect pallets of goods, load them, and send off all donated items within 30 days. She aims to send 10 semi-trucks filled with donated goods to North Carolina.

She is also sending 16 pallets filled with donated beans and rice to Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, to benefit Venezuelan refugees “who are currently starving to death,” she wrote to the Forest Park Review. Some pallets will also be sent to Guatemala to benefit families displaced by the volcano eruption.

“I love doing disaster relief,” she wrote to the Review. “Just need funding.”

Global Citizen USA is currently seeking sponsors or donors to help cover transportation and distribution costs. The nonprofit is also accepting donated goods.

Water and non-perishable foods are the nonprofit’s top priority for victims in North Carolina, although hygienic and bedding items are also important. Text 1-800-619-5258 if you are interested in helping the nonprofit collect goods in the Chicago area. Visit “Global Citizen USA” on Facebook to donate goods and learn more. Make a tax-deductible donation at Paypal.me/GlobalCitizenUSA. 

Nona Tepper