Second-Graders Among Those Donating To Puerto Rico Relief

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — “Hamilton” creator Lin-Manuel Miranda has launched a project to support hurricane relief for Puerto Rico, including the release of a star-studded new song.

Miranda, a New York native and son of Puerto Rican parents, released “Almost Like Praying” featuring an all-star lineup of artists including Jennifer Lopez, Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan and many others.

“Almost Like Praying” will benefit the Hispanic Federation’s UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund for Puerto Rico. Much of the island remains without power and many continue to struggle with access to food and water weeks after Hurricane Maria made landfall.

Miranda joined “CBS This Morning” to discuss why he decided to write the song, how it all came together and his recent tweets slamming President Trump for the federal response in Puerto Rico.

The award-winning playwright said it was important that the song not only raise awareness, but have a life of its own.

“I also wanted to make it as catchy as any other song I’d write,” he said. “It’s for a good cause but I want it to spread on its own.”

Much of the new track’s lyrics are the names of the 78 towns in Puerto Rico. Miranda said he was inspired by the frantic calls on social media from those on the island who were hoping to hear something about the towns, cut off from communication, where loved ones were.

“What I saw on my Facebook feed — and I’m sure a lot of other Latinos feel the same way — was this roll call of towns. ‘Has anyone heard from Isabela? ‘Has anyone heard from ‘San Juan?’ ‘My grandmother is in Lares,'” Miranda said. “If I can manage to put all 78 towns into a lyric for this song and then use the song for fundraising relief, that’s something we can all get behind.”

Meanwhile, second graders at Columbia Grammar School on Manhattan’s Upper West Side are among those all across the city donating to the Puerto Rico relief effort. The students have been coming in early to help organized donated goods, get them to the Javits Center, where they’ll be taken to Puerto Rico on planes organized by rappers Fat Joe and Jay Z.

“We’ve been helping Puerto Rico by giving, by doing donations like baby food, batteries,” one 8-year-old student told 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck. “It feels very good to help.

“They don’t really have water, fresh food,” another told Schuck.

Separately, a bipartisan group of five senators will travel to Puerto Rico Saturday to survey damage and monitor relief efforts.

Democratic lawmakers participating in the trip are Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut.

Republican Sens. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Cory Gardner of Colorado will also make the trip. The Department of Homeland Security is coordinating the visit.

The government is spending almost $200 million a day for emergency hurricane response. Lawmakers in the coming weeks will likely consider a $29 billion disaster aid package to pay for recovery efforts and federal flood insurance claims.

The hurricane has killed at least 34 people and most residents are still without electricity.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)