Our Schools Rally to Help Flint Residents

Students from Kentwood’s Challenger Elementary with part of their donation

Sibley Elementary students made good on their promise – in a big way — to send bottled water to fellow students in Flint.

On a frigid February morning they loaded about 350 cases and 140 gallon jugs into a 10-foot U-Haul truck, all donated by Sibley families in response to the Flint water crisis. Principal Andrew Alvesteffer and two Kent School Services Network staffers drove the truck to Eisenhower Elementary School, one of three Flint schools that last fall tested above the federal safety level for lead in drinking water.

On the way, they picked up another 14 cases donated by four Sibley mothers. “They’re concerned about the moms who are pregnant. They cannot imagine if they had to go through something like that,” said Isabel Dinkel of West Side Collaborative, translating for Beatriz Hernandez.

Other Grand Rapids Public Schools donated water as well, including Lincoln Developmental Center. Lincoln delivered the equivalent of about 15,000 bottles to a homeless shelter in two vehicles donated by Two Men and a Truck. “We’re very, very proud of our little 10-room schoolhouse,” said teacher Liesha Crawford.

Carrying a case of water together for Flint are Sibley students Ruth Gurrola (left) and Arey Ramirez

A County-wide Effort, and Then Some

Other Kent ISD public school district students collected water and donations for the residents of Flint, whose water supply is contaminated with toxic levels of lead. Many efforts are ongoing. Here are some:

In Caledonia, Emmons Lake Elementary fourth-graders collected water, and Caledonia High School is in the midst of a school-wide water drive. The Kettle Lake Elementary Cougar Kids Care Club also plans a bake sale and Hat Day in March to raise money to send to the city.

In Comstock Park, Pine Island Elementary students collected money and water.

Godfrey-Lee Public Schools held a water drive competition between buildings (Godfrey Elementary was the winner) and collected 13,786 bottles, or about 1,821 gallons.

Forest Hills Public Schools students and staff collected bottled water, water filters and cash donations, but that’s not nearly the whole story. Read an account of their efforts written by Forest Hills Central High journalism students.

At Grandville Public Schools, South Elementary, Cummings Elementary and the high school collected more than 1,100 water bottles.

At Kelloggsville Public Schools, Southeast Elementary fourth and fifth-graders are collecting bottled water through March 4 in partnership with the Hispanic Center of West Michigan.

Students at Kenowa Hills Central Elementary hosted a “mismatch day” and collected $265, which was used to purchase 66 cases of water.

District-wide, Kentwood Public Schools collected 14,149 bottles and 200 gallons of water.

Lowell Area High School students and the Murray Lake Elementary Student Council led water and donation drives.

In a just a few days in January, Northview HIgh School staff and students brought 60 cases to school, and another 47 were bought with money raised, around 4,000 bottles of water.

Crossroads Middle also held a competition to collect water. North Oakview Elementary teacher Theresa Blank also led a collection.

“My decision to collect bottles of water for Flint was based on the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about all those children and their futures at-risk because of the water situation,” Blank said. “What will be impacted particularly is their learning. So sad.”

 

Spurred by Martin Luther King Day assemblies focused on helping others, Sparta Area Schools also collect water during a “Spread the Love” drive between MLK Day and Valentine’s Day. Churches, the Rotary Club and others joined in, and trucks to deliver the water have been donated by Fixture Finders and UEI Inc.

More than 3,000 bottles of water have been collected so far.

A first-grader at Thornapple Kellogg McFall Elementary spearheaded an effort to collect water that became a community-wide effort. “I just said, ‘why don’t we take some of our water to them?’” said Scarlette Liesenfelder. “So we did.” Collection efforts at the district are ongoing.

At Oriole Park Elementary in the Wyoming Public Schools district, a student-led effort also collected bottled water.

CONNECT

Area Schools Donate Water to Flint Residents

The students of Sibley Elementary and their teachers teamed up to fill this U-Haul with bottled water for students in Flint
Charles Honey
Charles Honey is a freelance writer and former columnist for The Grand Rapids Press/ MLive.com. As a reporter for The Press from 1985 to 2009, his beats included Grand Rapids Public Schools, local colleges and education issues. Honey served as editor of The Press’ award-winning Religion section for 15 years. His freelance articles have appeared in Christianity Today magazine, Religion News Service and the Aquinas College alumni magazine. Read Charles' full bio.

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