The mother of a crewman who perished when the container ship El Faro sank two years ago has organized a donation drive to benefit the victims of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Michael Holland

Deb Roberts’ son, Michael Holland, was among the 33 crewmen, including four from Maine, who died when the 790-foot ship sank off the Bahamas on Oct. 1, 2015, after encountering intense weather and engine trouble on its trip from Jacksonville, Florida, to Puerto Rico.

Roberts, of Wilton, announced on her Facebook page that she will be at the Scarborough Walmart from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday collecting donations of supplies. Walmart has loaned her a tractor trailer to store the donations in.

Walmart will transport the supplies to Jacksonville, where they will be loaded onto a boat and shipped to Puerto Rico by TOTE, the company that owned and operated El Faro. The El Faro frequently traveled between Florida and Puerto Rico, and Roberts said her son loved to visit the island, which sustained billions of dollars in damage from the recent hurricane.

“Please consider making a donation in memory of Mike to help the people of Puerto Rico as they are still trying to recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria back in September,” Roberts said in a Facebook post.

From Monday through Dec. 1, donations will be accepted from noon to 7 p.m. People can drop off donations at the customer service desk if the trailer is not manned.


Roberts is looking for a wide array of supplies that may include: bottled water, stand up flashlights, fans, generators, gas cans, deodorant, lotion, batteries, battery operated lanterns, toilet paper, adult diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mosquito repellent, red, black or white beans, and canned fruit or rice.

“These are the types of things that keep me going,” she told WCSH-TV. “My main focus and my main goal for this always starts with finding ways to honor Mike’s legacy. For me as a grieving mom, that’s the way that I’ve found the healing process. To help others helps my heart heal.”

Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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