WEST POINT — When sixth grader Honor Brown saw that kids like her in Flint, Michigan, did not have clean water to drink, it surprised her and inspired her to act.
“Honestly, I think about it once in awhile, that it could happen to me,” said the Central School student. “That’s one thing that really made me want to help.”
So Brown organized a fundraiser that eventually raised nearly $3,000 for water for Flint residents.
Flint residents are making due with water filters and bottled water distributed by the city, and the area continues to cope with finding its way through a public health crisis in regard to its water. The city’s officials switched its source of drinking water from the Flint River to Lake Huron in April 2014 to save money, and although the people of Flint complained about rashes and bad tasting and smelling water since then, it was only after elevated levels of lead were found in children’s blood this fall that the city sprung into action.
After seeing this news two weeks ago, Brown approached Central School Principal Wynesther Cousins and discussed ways to assist Flint residents.
“She said if she could send some water that would be good, and I said, ‘OK, I think we can do that, but I’m not really sure how we would ship it,'” said Cousins, adding she instructed Brown to go home and research it.
The next day Brown approached her with phone numbers and addresses of potential places to assist with Flint donations, and the two decided they would focus efforts on one of Flint’s schools — Doyle/Ryder Elementary School.
“We thought it was a good idea since we’re a school, to donate to a school,” said Cousins, who also assisted Brown in partnering with Walmart for an in-store purchase agreement, so that they could avoid shipping costs.
Brown launched her fundraiser at the end of the day on Jan. 25. Alongside Cousins, they organized a “jean day” donation fee for the week — at $1 per day both students and teacher could wear jeans rather than their uniforms to school.
“We also had donations from many in the community, individuals and organizations,” said Cousins.
It was the first time Brown has organized an event, but she found the experience to be rewarding.
“It was scary, and it can be hard to lead, but overall it kind of feels good to be doing something,” she said. “It feels good when people come to me and say how good it is, and what an inspiration it is.”
While she sees the water as an important gesture, for right now she hopes that more will be done to ensure all is made right in Flint.
“I think we all have to come together as a community, to raise money for the filters for sinks, new pipes, or a whole different system,” she said.
Cousins said Brown’s actions have inspired interest in taking action throughout the school, and said her contribution “speaks a lot about her character.”
“You don’t find a lot of students her age who are concerned with helping other students,” she said. “And she really did make a global impact with her efforts.”
Sam Luvisi is news editor and covers education for The Dispatch.
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