Donations and volunteers: Here’s how Martha’s Vineyard communities responded to the influx of migrants


In the hours after about 50 migrants touched down on Martha’s Vineyard on two planes sent by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the island community – still reeling from the unexpected arrivals – rushed to help the newcomers.

“We got food, we got clothes, … we got different things, so much so that we had to move that drop off place to the fire department,” Edgartown, Massachusetts, town administrator James Hagerty told CNN Wednesday.

City officials also had to post on social media that they didn’t need any more donations, Hagerty added, as the items continued to pour in.

“I think it’s a testament to the community of the year and it’s a testament to the citizens of Edgartown, it’s a testament to everything that’s going on right now,” he said.

“We’ve been through Covid, we’ve been through hurricanes, we’ve been through this, we’ve been through a lot of things imaginable for a small community and we’ve risen up as the Vineyard because we’re resilient,” Hagerty said. “We take care of ours, we take care of the community, we help people.”

The town is no stranger to large populations. Located off the coast of Massachusetts, the island of Martha’s Vineyard – home to Edgartown and several other municipalities – is known as an elegant summer destination for wealthy vacationers.

While the town’s winter population is in the hundreds, it swells to several thousand during the warmer months that host summer tourists, Hagerty said.

The island’s population of around 20,000 all year round can rise to over 100,000 during the tourist season.

But the city administrator said the challenges with the arrival of migrants this week were unexpected, and that everything happened “at the last minute.”

In addition to donations, island towns and community-based and non-profit groups are contributing to the effort to care for the migrants and provide them with shelter, food and care, according to a Facebook post by the Dukes County government.

“We are grateful to the many local and surrounding community members who have received offers of assistance,” county officials wrote in the post.

Now, Hagerty said, the biggest help city officials need is financial: Migrants have several needs, including relocating to another U.S. city and getting transportation there.

“We’re trying to manage it as best we can,” Hagerty said. “The needs are diverse and financial aid would best facilitate many of these diversities.”

The arrival is the latest in a series of moves by Republican governors to transport migrants to liberal northern cities and states to protest the Biden administration’s policies on the southern border.

Also this week, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said he had sent two busloads of migrants to Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in the nation’s capital, and Thursday’s arrival surprised unsuspecting volunteers. Democratic leaders denounced the moves and the White House press secretary called the actions “cruel, politically premeditated.”