Eleven months after Hurricane Irma made landfall in Collier County, some people are still struggling to recover from the storm. But help is on its way from half-way around the world. The United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday a gift of $2.7 million to help those hit the hardest.
"After watching the news (of Hurricane Irma,) the UAE couldn't help but want to find a way of helping," said Dana Al Marashi, head of Heritage and Social Affairs with the UAE embassy in Washington, D.C.
The UAE pledged $10 million for hurricane recovery efforts throughout Florida. $2.7 million will go to United Way of Collier County, which will share the gift with the Collier County Public School District and Grace Place For Children and Families in Golden Gate.
Collier County Public Schools will receive $1.1 million to purchase a thousand laptops for classrooms, and rebuild Wi-Fi towers close to schools in Immokalee and Everglades, which saw some of the worst hurricane damage.
"Thanks to you, we know the children and their families in both Immokalee and Everglades City will truly have their lives changed forever," CCPS Superintendent Kamela Patton told Al Marashi at a press conference Wednesday.
Another $1.2 million goes to Grace Place for much-needed soccer fields and playground improvements, and to help repair their students' roofs.
"Over 30 homes in this immediate area, that are Grace Place families, are going to have those blue tarps removed and get proper roofing," said Steve Sanderson of the United Way of Collier County.
"We are so excited that the money is going to be used to help children," Al Marashi said.
This is not the first time the United Arab Emirates has helped out hurricane victims. The UAE provided relief money to New Orleans after Hurricance Katrina in 2005, and to New Jersey after that area was hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2011.