SIU students party to help those affected by Flint water crisis

SIU students party to help those affected by Flint water crisis

By Tierra Carpenter, @Tierramc_

More than 100 students gathered at Saluki Bar N’ Grill on Thursday night — not to have a drink — but to help children affected by the Flint water crisis.

SIU students Kendall Crayton and Kamaal Najieb got a group of 15 other students together from organizations such as SIU’s NAACP chapter and Phi Kappa Tau to help put together events with proceeds that go toward the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.

It is safe for people in Flint, Mich., to bathe with their tap water, but it is not safe for drinking or cooking, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. All proceeds and water collected from the Thursday gathering and a potluck barbecue on Saturday will go to help those in Flint. 


Reid Buerer, a senior from McHenry studying healthcare management, said she came to the event Thursday because it is “just insane to think that there are people without clean water.”

“It’s all caused by our own government,” Buerer said. “Our government should be doing more to reconcile the situation, especially since they played some part in causing it to happen.”

Three government employees are facing charges tied to the water crisis, according to CNN. Water tests in Flint during September 2015 determined the liquid had enough lead to cause serious health problems. The United Way estimated that up to 12,000 children drank the water, and the Flint Journal reported that more than 70 cases of Legionnaires’ disease could be traced back high levels of lead. 

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Both events brought in a total of about $600 and 38 cases of water.

Any money donated to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint will go towards the children affected by the water crisis.

Crayton, a senior from Peoria studying mining engineering, said he and Najieb, a senior from Chicago studying microbiology, got the idea to start planning these events about two months ago after hearing about what’s happening in Flint on the news.


Some local organizations that donated to the cause include the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, Saluki Bar & Grill, 710 Bookstore and 17th Street Barbecue.   

Crayton said one reason the group supports this cause is because some of them have family members that live near Flint, including Najieb, who has family in Detroit.

“Water is a necessity,” Crayton said. “If you’re an adult, you have to go to your nine-to-five job and it’s kind of demoralizing every morning emptying a bottle, warming it up and using it to shower.”

Crayton said the pair will drive the water they’ve collected to Flint at the end of the semester. As for Najieb, he said he will continue to work for this cause.

“I’m not going to stop until the situation is handled,” he said.

The pair, who will continue to collect funds and water through the end of the school year, can be contacted via email at [email protected] and [email protected].

Tierra Carpenter can be reached at [email protected] or 618-536-3325.