When MSW student Terrahl Del Taylor heard about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, he wanted to do something to help so he contacted the College of Social Work to brainstorm ideas. The result: a student-sponsored water drive that extended way beyond Ohio State’s main campus and collected more than 15 tons of water.
For a month, both financial and water donations were accepted and a GoFundMe page was set up for those wanting to make a financial contribution to purchase water for Flint residents. Several days a week, College of Social Work students manned a table to collect donations in Stillman Hall. The donated water would help families who did not have clean water to drink, cook with, or bathe in.
“I wanted to do this because I think every single person needs to have clean, healthy water. Every day, I take having clean water to drink and bathe in for granted,” said Taylor. “When I heard about the water crisis I started to think about how much I rely on water daily and I knew how much it would mean to them to have additional help.”
Social Work undergraduate student Melinda Shade thought this would be a great community outreach project for the after-school program she interns for at Directions for Youth & Families.
“The kids wanted to help the families in Michigan but weren’t sure how they’d buy the water,” said Shade. “With the help of staff, they made signs and stood outside the center asking for donations. It was a way for them to get involved with what’s going on in the world and feel like they can make a difference.”
And they did. In two days, the kids, ages 8-17, raised $170 and collected bottled water. After five trips to Kroger, they contributed 34 cases 32 packs of water, 47 one gallon jugs and 1 four gallon jug. Directions for Youth & Families is a resiliency-oriented/trauma-informed mental and behavioral health nonprofit organization serving Franklin and Delaware counties.
Even businesses participated. To support the students, Kroger discounted water and agreed to transport 10 pallets (84 cases of 24 bottles per pallet) totaling more than 20,000 bottles to Flint at no charge.
On the drive’s last day, regional campus students from Lima, Mansfield and Marion hit the highways to deliver more than six van fulls of water to the college. Hawthorne Elementary School of Westerville also delivered more than 588 gallons. In addition to many financial supporters, a Cleveland prep school donated more than $500.
A group of social work students, faculty, and staff delivered 263 cases and 266 gallon jugs of water—totaling more than 10,000 pounds—to Catholic Charities in Flint on March 16.
“As a land grant institution, it’s our mission to reach out to those in rural and urban communities and to places with great need,” said Lisa Durham, Assistant Dean of Strategic Initiatives and Community Engagement. “A lot of our students come from such places as those, and in social work in particular, helping others is part of our core values. It doesn’t matter where someone needs help. We just go to where that need is.”
The significance of Buckeyes helping the Wolverines isn’t lost either. Taylor added “I also thought that coming from students at a rival university would help encourage a culture of connectedness. Together, we can make a difference!”
Check out some of the media coverage the water drive received:
Columbus CBS WBNS-10TV
Columbus NBC WCMH-TV4
Flint ABC WJRT-TV12
Flint CBS WNEM-TV5
Flint NBC WILX-TV10