Upon learning that over 8,000 children have been exposed to toxic levels of lead flowing from corrosive drinking water flowing through aging pipes, Illinois State graduate students Ariane Chew ’14 and LaCrisha McAllister ’14 and undergraduate student Emily Pete knew that they had to lend a helping hand. These three students with support from the School of Social Work are putting the community service part of Illinois State’s mission—”creating the most supportive and productive community possible to serve the citizens of Illinois and beyond”—to work in the real world by organizing a water drive at Illinois State University during February.
Pete has based her Honors Project for this semester on documenting the process of organizing this water drive. McAllister and Chew have connected with Flint’s local charities to ensure that the donations adhere to safety codes and spread awareness of this crisis. Through asking for donations, these three students hope to make other students aware of this crisis as well as make a great contribution to the city of Flint, Michigan. A goal of theirs is to also purchase water filters for Flint residents with the monetary donations received through this water drive.
“We want people to know that the immediate need for clean water is just short-term, and there is a long-term problem. People are still receiving and expected to pay water bills for water that they cannot drink or even bathe in. The lead that is in the bloodstreams of Flint citizens, specifically children, can cause lifelong adverse problems because there is no cure for lead poisoning. People cannot sell their homes because the water contamination is widely known making the worth of their homes nothing,” said McAllister, a Social Work graduate student. “We just want to make sure that we acknowledge that sending the water is kind of small scale because the work that needs to be done is institutional, but it is still important to do what we can for those affected by this, those being poisoned by contaminated water.”
These students will be collecting water and monetary donations on the second floor of the Bone Student Center on February 8 and February 15 from 9 a.m.–12 p.m., February 9 and February 16 from 1–4 p.m., and February 11 and 18 from 1–3 p.m. Individuals looking to donate water can also make drop offs on the third floor of Rachel Cooper from 9 am–4 p.m. from February 8–19.
Acceptable donations are full cases of water, commercially sealed gallon (or larger) containers of water. All containers must have an expiration date at least six months in the future.