As U.S. territories in the Caribbean struggle to recover from the back-to-back impacts of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Duke is not sitting idle.

Marie Perkins, Ph.D. candidate in the chemistry department, is spearheading a relief drive for the U.S. Virgin Islands through the Graduate Chemistry Council. The drive will take place Oct. 12 at the Bryan Center Plaza from noon to 4 p.m. Requested donations include medical supplies, hygiene products, non-perishable foods and cleaning products. Perkins has also started a GoFundMe page to fundraise for the cost of shipping the supplies.

There will be several collection bins stationed around campus at the Fuqua School of Business, Divinity School, Law School, Department of Physical Therapy, Counseling and Psychological Services and French Family Sciences Center. The bins will remain there until Oct. 20.

“In our history as a U.S. territory, we’ve never all been simultaneously devastated,” Perkins—who is originally from the island of Saint Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands—said. “The U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are interdependent on one another, and that’s the worst part. That’s how I knew that aid had to come from the states—because it can’t happen internally right now.”

Perkins is co-organizing the drive with law student Elizabeth Tobierre, Trinity ’13. She is also from St. Croix. They attended junior high school together in a building that, because of Hurricane Maria, no longer has a roof.

The supplies will be sent to St. Croix, to be distributed across the U.S. Virgin Islands through the office of St. Croix Senator Kurt Vialet. Perkins and Tobierre hope to collect enough supplies to fill and ship a 20-foot container “the size of a room” to the island.

Perkins said she regretted not being able to send aid to Puerto Rico as well, as she is yet to hear from her family on the island.

“Puerto Rico has not seen this kind of devastation from a hurricane in 100 years,” she said. “It’s just hard to get things onto the island because, as far as I know, all the ports are still down.”

Devastation is widespread enough that longtime residents of the U.S. Virgin Islands have been fleeing to the mainland on so-called mercy flights and mercy cruises. Tobierre noted in particular that many parents will seek to enroll their children in school on the mainland.

Neither Perkins nor Tobierre said they expected things to return to normal on the islands anytime soon. Both agreed, however, that the U.S. Virgin Islands are home to a resilient group of people. Tobierre pointed out that, in spite of the damage, the islands still put on their annual celebration of Puerto Rico-Virgin Islands Friendship Day. Perkins said some schools on St. Croix plan to open within a week’s time.

“It goes to show that people know exactly what’s going on, but are still trying to get things back to normal,” Tobierre said. “Though I don’t think normal will be within the next six months.”