Two Florida A&M University students created the FAMU4Flint campaign in February to collect money and bottled water to be sent to Flint, Mich. in response to the recent water crisis.
Chalion Belchie, a second-year sociology student, and Jasmine Plummer, a second-year nursing student, began the campaign to raise awareness of the issue and support for Flint residents.
“I didn’t know much about what was happening in Flint until a few weeks ago. When I saw the color of the water it blew my mind and made me realize how much I take water for granted,” Plummer said. “The residents in Flint can’t bathe or brush their teeth because the water is basically poison, so I decided to do something about it.”
According to CNN, the crisis in Flint began in 2014 after a state-appointed emergency manager made the decision to switch the city’s water supply from the Detroit River to the Flint River to save money.
The Flint River, infamous for being dirty, tested positive for high levels of lead in 2014 according to the city of Flint 2014 Annual Water Quality Report. The report showed that chemical release from the hundreds of miles of aged cast iron pipes caused the water to become contaminated.
Since the water emergency in Flint made national headlines, Michigan has provided water filters, lead testing and other essentials to more than 99,000 residents.
Belchie said when she found out this had been going on for two years, she was in disbelief.
“The fact that this has been going on for two years without people knowing about it is really crazy,” Belchie said.
The campaign has established a large following including student-run organizations, local businesses, and community members. Second-year pre-physical therapy student and Flint native, Davis Burrell, is one of those faithful supporters.
“I have family in Flint that are prohibited from doing basic tasks such as bathing. This crisis affects me spiritually because of that,” Burrell said. “The FAMU4Flint movement is a great thing. It shows that our university cares about others and aren’t taking things for granted.”
The organizers plan to partner with Sam’s Club in Flint to accept bottled water donations which will soon be available for purchase directly from the website.
Their goal is to collect 1887 gallons of water to donate, but they express interest want to make a direct impact by visiting the city.
“We are making plans to take a trip to Flint in the near future so we can personally distribute all the goods we collect,” Belchie said.
Belchie hopes this campaign will be the start of greater service works at FAMU.
“As an HBCU I believe we should be looking out for others in the black community. Compared to other schools, we don’t do enough to give back. I am hoping this will make way for something even bigger,” Belchie said.