A group of Kent State students came together to help raise money and water for people affected by the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Student volunteers collected water bottles and raised $750 to contribute to the relief effort. The money raised was used to purchase additional cases of water to send to Flint.
“The goal was to get them fresh water,” said senior journalism major Toni Hunt, a volunteer. “It didn’t matter how much we got, it didn’t matter how little we got. We just wanted to help out in anyway possible. We had students (who) helped, but we also had people not associated with Kent State help with water and money donations.”
The water gathered by Kent State’s student volunteers was sent to Flint on Friday along with additional water a similar group of citizens in Akron was able to collect.
The group teamed up with campus organizations such as Focus on the Future and USG to make the fundraiser happen.
“I’m thinking about the people in Flint,” Hunt said. “The government will do what they need to do to help. We can only do what we can, which is donate money and water to the people in Flint.”
“I just wanted to bring some people together who had some similar motives and help as much as I can,” said senior pan-african studies major Damien McClendon, who also volunteered. “I heard about (the Flint crisis) and thought it was a travesty that they do not have water to drink in their house.”
According to a CNN report, residents of Flint have been drinking dirty water since 2014, when the city decided to join a new regional water system. The city used water from the Flint River while the new system was being developed.
Despite receiving several complaints about bad tasting and dirty looking water, local government did nothing to solve the issue.
The situation continued to get worse as an ABC News story revealed that local authorities told the public false information about the cleanliness of the water.
It wasn’t until an outside investigation by Virginia Tech researchers revealed that the water Flint residents were drinking contained high levels of lead that government official admitted there was a water issue.
Even low levels of lead can cause cause brain damage, anemia, mental retardation and other serious medical issues, according to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
“It definitely makes you question what the procedures and regulations for water here in Ohio are,” said junior political science major Saadiq Muhammad. “Not only within the more established communities, but also within the poor or rural communities.”
The Michigan government has since bought water filters for all citizens in Flint, and switched back to their original water source from Detroit.
“I think it could definitely happen in Ohio,” McClendon said. “My mother lives in Youngstown, Ohio, and she got a notice that her water may be contaminated, but I’m not sure if it was lead.”
Austin Farber is a social services reporter for the Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]