PORTAGE, MI – About a dozen volunteers from the Uplift Kalamazoo and Village in the Valley organizations gathered in Portage on Thursday to accept a donation from the local supermarket chain Harding’s Friendly Markets.
Kalamazoo Mayor David Anderson joined Portage city manager Joe LaMargo and Portage public security officers on Thursday 30 July while the two government officials helped volunteer groups load thousands of water bottles in a van.
“It started with a simple conversation with some young people from Flint,” said Tamara Custard, CEO of Village in the Valley. “To hear that you have some people who are still using bottles of water to shower – it’s harmful. Whether young people live in our city or somewhere else, we will support them. “
Custard claims to have collected over 500 crates of bottled water, which are currently in his garage waiting to be delivered directly to Flint residents.
Custard said that collaborating with local companies and organizations in both Kalamazoo and Portage is a reflection of the effort itself. He hopes the donation will serve as a reminder that further action is needed to ensure Flint residents that their tap water is safe to use.
“Our job at Village of the Valley is to alleviate trauma and bring permanent resources. We appreciate it every time, but we don’t want to keep asking for donations, we need permanent solutions, “said Custard.
The water crisis in Flint has been well documented since 2014, when state officials began using the untreated Flint River as a source of tap water instead of Detroit’s more expensive water system.
According to the city of Flint, its water quality is now stable, but doubts about water quality remain for many of its citizens.
“With COVID, with this social movement, we are recognizing a moment when we cannot separate, we must meet collectively. Some of these entities that may have more than average resources are doing those extra touches to make sure we are meeting those needs collectively, “said Kalamazoo city commissioner Eric Cunningham, who was among those who helped load the water Thursday.
Harding store manager Ed Gazi told MLive that his store had donated 144 packs of 24 bottled water.
Numerous Portage police officers came to assist with the loading process.
“I think the blessing in disguise for many of these things that are happening right now is that you see the best coming out of people,” said LaMargo. “Today is Harding. I think it’s amazing and this donation is another example of people from different communities meeting, no matter where you come from or what you have. “
Custard said he plans to drain the water donated by Harding to his garage, from where even more cases of water will be transported and delivered to Flint later.
Members of the Village of the Valley group are planning to drive to provide water directly to needy residents with the help of Flint volunteers. The organization plans to continue collecting bottled water for the effort until Thursday 6 August.
Those interested in making a donation of water bottle to Village in the Valley to be sent to Flint can contact the organization on their Facebook page.
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