A Belleville charity that collected a semi’s worth of bottled water for Flint, Mich., needs your help to pack it all up on Saturday.
Project Compassion, an organization that promotes “the empowerment and enhancement of disadvantaged and low-income women and children,” aimed to collect 1,000 cases of bottled water at a drive it held on Feb. 20 from 10 a.m. until 6 that evening.
“By noon, we realized we had a water problem,” said Rachel Jackson, Project Compassion’s Executive Director.
The group, which partnered with the St. Louis-based Korey Johnson Foundation and the production company Beyond Limits, was going to use a moving van to ship all the water, but at the end of the day, with over 10,000 donated cases, organizers had to split them up between two storage units, a three-car garage at Serenity Memorial Chapel in Belleville, the equipment center of Dellwood (Mo.) Recreational Center and another storage facility in Ferguson, Mo.
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Organizers called family and friends to transport the water for storage, and when Holland Regional, a Michigan-based trucking company, heard about the drive, it offered to ship the water in one 53-foot semi for free.
The bottles will be wrapped on 28 pallets and will weigh approximately 40,000 lbs, said Patrick Coleman, a representative for Holland Regional.
The shipment is going to Center of Hope, a Catholic charity based in Flint, Mich., for storage and distribution, Jackson said. Center of Hope was closed Thursday due to inclement weather, and no one was available to talk about relief efforts.
Ten-thousand cases of water may sound like a lot, but Jackson assured that it goes very quickly. The water will be used for drinking, cooking, bathing and other essential needs.
In the nearly 10 years Project Compassion has been around, it has helped about 70,000 people, Jackson estimated. It doesn’t plan on holding another water drive in the near future, but as long as Flint’s water remains undrinkable, there is always the possibility that the Belleville-based group will welcome more donations.
For right now, Jackson said, she is happy that she was able to bring different people together. This Saturday, when the water is shipped, she hopes to bring together more.
Volunteers can come out at 8 a.m. on Saturday at the Dellwood Recreational Center in Dellwood, Mo., to help pack up the water. Even those who may not be able to lift much are welcomed to attend. There will be some paperwork to do, Johnson said, and a barbeque.