by Feed The Children
Dangerously polluted water. Children with symptoms of lead poisoning. A community in crisis.
The news coming out of Flint, MI, has been devastating, and reminds many of us how much we take for granted: simple things like turning on the kitchen faucet, preparing food for our children, giving them a bath at night, and tucking them into bed with one last drink of water. For the residents of Flint, these everyday activities have become downright dangerous.
Our faith teaches us that the children of Flint, many of whom are suffering and sick, could be our own children. The call of Jesus could not be more clear: “… I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink …” (Matt. 25:35) and “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) (NIV).
When disaster strikes as it has in Flint, many of us immediately want to help. But what kind of assistance is most beneficial to a community in need? How can our individual gifts be combined to make the biggest impact?
Feed the Children has a proven track record responding to disasters such as the one currently facing Flint. Feed the Children has been mobilizing over the last several weeks and months, bringing together a variety of partners to provide immediate help to the area. “Our focus is always on creating a world where kids can be kids,” says Kevin Richardson, Director of Church and Volunteer Engagement for Feed the Children. “Experts tell us that between 7,000 and 15,000 children are being impacted by this crisis. What could be more important for these children and their parents than the gift of clean, safe, reliable drinking water?”
That’s exactly what the community of Flint is receiving. Thanks to Feed the Children’s extensive network of corporations, churches, nonprofits, and individuals working together, residents of Flint are receiving provisions for relief in the wake of this tragedy.
Niagara Bottling, LLC has been an invaluable partner to help alleviate the urgent crisis in Flint. The company has generously donated truckloads of water that are being delivered to a warehouse in Flint, where the water will be distributed to the general public. And Feed the Children’s corporate and church partners are stepping up to cover the transportation costs for this water. As of this writing, more than 41 truckloads of water have been sponsored by organizations such as UPS Foundation, ODW Logistics, Sparta, Wright Distribution, Logan Express, Dray Technologies, Teleperformance, and The Children’s Dream Center, a local partner.
Churches have joined the fight as well. Crossings Community Church and Acts 2 United Methodist Church in Oklahoma City are sponsoring transportation costs for five semi-trucks full of water. This water is being delivered to community-outreach centers in Flint, thanks to the generosity of these churches.
“At Crossings we are committed to resolving the deadly water crisis in the third world. It would only stand to reason that we would follow the example of Jesus by extending fresh, clean water to our neighbors in Michigan as well,” said Pam Milligan, Pastor of Missions and Outreach Ministries at Crossings Community Church.
Michigan’s State Emergency Operations Center has already thanked Feed the Children for the organization’s support and leadership. The water being sent by Feed the Children and its partners is standardized, palletized, shrink-wrapped, and ready to go. This makes distribution much easier than loose donations of bottled water, which are hard to distribute and can be of variable quality.
In addition to providing water, Feed the Children partner, Pharmavite, has been providing calcium and iron supplements, plus vitamin C, which helps reduce the absorption rate of lead in the body. Medical experts estimate that some 12,000 children may have been exposed to lead poisoning in the town. The Children’s Dream Center has received this donation and is working to distribute it to residents.
Feed the Children will also be working closely with the Genesee County School District in the months to come. Feed the Children will be donating ready-to-eat snack items, plus children’s books for parents to read to their children over the summer months. The intent is to help offset any learning deficiencies that may occur due to children’s exposure to lead.
It will take an estimated one million bottles of water per day to fulfill the basic water needs of the Flint community. The need is great and the situation is dire, but Feed the Children is honored to be a part of the solution, and will be there for the long haul. “All disasters start and end locally,” said Richardson, “and this is how Feed the Children works, with local partners and local people. We will continue to support local efforts as long as there is a need and our resources allow.”
To learn how your church can contribute to this cause, please contact Feed the Children at 1-800-627-4556, or Kevin Richardson, Director of Church and Volunteer Engagement of Feed the Children, at 405-945-4196.