Local activist and Port Matilda resident John Adams urged a group of guys to make sure they took a shower before heading on a trip to Flint, Mich.
“Because once we get there, we might not have that luxury,” he said.
#OpFlint is a national campaign that helps with relief efforts by bringing water to residents in Flint, Mich.
On Saturday morning, Adams, a founding member of Anonymous State College, joined them on a trip to Flint, Mich., for a project they called Operation Flint — otherwise known as #OpFlint.
It’s part of a larger initiative spearheaded by the national Anonymous organization to collect purified water for people affected by the lack of clean water sources in parts of central Michigan.
Anonymous is an international grass-roots activist group.
For the Anonymous branch of State College, the goal was to collect donations of bottled water, and other supplies, and join Anonymous members from across the country to bring the collections to those Michigan residents deprived of clean water.
Flint is in a public health state of emergency due to lead poisoning in its local water supply.
“They’ve been hit hard, so I think it’s our mission to just help with what we can,” Adams said on behalf of the group.
Most of its local members wouldn’t go on record with a name other than identifying themselves as “anonymous.”
Anonymous State College collected “hundreds” of bottled water donations. It was enough to help fill a 27-foot truck
Adams said they also got “hundreds” of water bottle donations from Lowe’s, The Home Depot, Giant Food Stores, Weis Markets and Wegmans, which filled a handful of vehicles. Additionally, a 27-foot truck made its way to the area from New Jersey. The driver of that truck also made stops along the way collecting bottled water donations from Anonymous groups on its route.
Some grocery stores also donated gift cards to the group, which made purchases specifically of cases of water.
About seven activists left from the Centre County Courthouse in Bellefonte early Saturday morning. They were scheduled to converge with other Anonymous groups in Petersburg, Mich., before making their final stop in Flint — nearly a seven-hour drive from central Pennsylvania.
“Our primary goal is to be an aid for them, and especially step in at a time when the National Guard pulled out,” Adams said. “I think they’re the ground zero for water infrastructure that plagued the nation, and it’s a way to spread awareness and education about a problem that can happen anywhere.”
But Saturday’s trip wasn’t the first — or last — the local activists have made to the area.
Local activists first made a trip to flint in March to help with the initiative
Adams said a group from Anonymous State College made its first leg of the trip March 12.
“We’re making it a habit and learning from each experience,” Adams said. “What we found when we went was that they needed more than just water.”
Through social media and word of mouth, the group asked locals to donate bottled water, baby wipes, antibacterial products and washcloths to the Bellefonte VFW as a central donation drop-off location.
For those who couldn’t make the drop-off to the Bellefonte location, Adams said they stored donations individually for a later pickup.
“We’ve had a lot of running around,” Adams said, “It’s not an easy thing to do because water is so heavy, but it’s fine because when people hear of that kind of devastation, they’re more inclined to help.”
A 24-case of water can provide enough to last a family of four for a week
Adams said members of he National Guard told him a 24-case of water can provide enough to last a family of four for a week.
It’s a statistic Adams said doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, but makes a difference for families in need.
During the previous visit, Adams said he learned people are using the donated water “to shower with, brush their teeth and everyday living.”
“Some areas are hit harder than others,” he said. “To see the needs firsthand is what puts things in perspective. They loved the help; it was appreciated and just about brought tears to their eyes. They have a long fight ahead and we don’t want them to be forgotten.”
On this weekend’s trip, the local group will specifically aid residents in the east side of Flint.
“They, I think, have it the worst,” Adams said. “It’s a rough area.”
The group plans to drive back to the State College area Sunday and Monday, but said they’re already planning for another visit, and a trip that will bring more than just water.
Adams said he’s engaging in outreach with others to discuss a rainwater collection system that helps save the use of locally provided water for people in Flint.
“We’re finding all means to help these people that goes beyond just providing donations and immediate relief for these families,” Adams said. “Unless you’ve seen it firsthand, it’s a hard concept to comprehend.”
Adams said he had “minimal handling” of the tainted water during his previous visit, and broke out with a rash on his arm.
Other than donations, Adams said he’s also encouraging more people to volunteer for what he called “boots on the ground.”
Volunteers, he said, do not need to be affiliated with Anonymous.
For more information:
Visit the Anonymous State College Facebook page at www.facebook.com/anonymousstatecollegelulzsec