Musicians horrified and heartbroken by the ongoing water crisis in Flint, Michigan, are donating money and water to local nonprofits — and calling on their fans to do the same.
Pearl Jam on Friday announced it would be donating $300,000 to the United Way of Genesee County’s Flint Water Fund, and encouraged others to pitch in on CrowdRise. At press time, supporters had contributed $5,000 so far.
It has been 637 days since the city of Flint switched from using water piped in from the Great Lakes, using the toxic Flint River instead. As Rolling Stone writer and Flint native Stephen Rodrick explains in "Who Poisoned Flint, Michigan?” the move saved a nominal amount of money for the city, but consequences have been devastating for its residents.
The city stopped treating its water for lead and jacked up the amount of chlorine to dangerous levels in order to ward off bacteria. Lead poisoning can lead to both stunted mental development and physical growth. It’s also irreversible — impacted children will carry the effects of poisoning with them for the rest of their lives.
For months, local and state officials lied to residents about the danger the water in their homes might post to their health, and they stalled efforts to fix the problem. Last week, President Obama declared a state of emergency in the city.
"I am devastated by the water crisis that has put the entire city of Flint in a state of emergency," Big Sean, who grew up an hour away from Flint in Detroit, said in a statement. "It is my hope that we can help by raising the money needed to ensure that the children who have been hit the hardest receive the care that they need today and well into the future."
Meek Mill reportedly made a donation to Flint Child and Family Health Development Fund as well, and sent 60,000 bottles of water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan. Cher (and the bottled water brand Icelandic Glacial) sent the food bank an additional 181,440 bottles of water on Wednesday.
Donations to the Flint Water Fund will go directly toward the purchase of water filters and bottled water, as well as emergency support services and prevention efforts, according to the United Way. The nonprofit it has already secured 11,000 filters systems and 5,000 replacement filters already. Any money left over after immediate needs have been met will go toward the Flint Child Health and Development Fund. Donations to Sean’s Crowdrise will go to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint, Michigan.
Karen Weaver, the newly-elected mayor of Flint, sent thanks to the celebrities who had pitched in via a TMZ cameraman while on a recent trip to DC to discuss the crisis. "I appreciate it and the residents of the city of Flint love you for that," she said.