Chicago firefighter collects bottled water to help Flint water crisis

ByWill Jones WLS logo
Friday, January 22, 2016
Firefighter collects water for Flint
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A Chicago firefighter is organizing an effort to send relief to Flint, Mich. residents.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Chicago firefighter is organizing an effort to send relief to Flint, Mich. residents - he's behind a plan to donate thousands of bottles of water there.

Eric Washington has been Chicago firefighter for about two years. He's proving that firefighters respond to the call of duty on and off the clock, and that their dedication goes beyond the borders of the city.

"My job as a firefighter, I help people. That doesn't mean I can't help people when I am not at work," he said.

Washington works at the firehouse in the 4400-block of Kedzie in Albany Park. He is used to spraying water during an emergency - not collecting it.

But he couldn't believe the water crisis unfolding just four hours away from Chicago in Flint.

"You see this in third world countries. You don't see this in the United States of America," Washington said.

The 33-year-old felt compelled to act after seeing the reports of Flint's contaminated water supply. He posted a call to action on Facebook on Monday.

"I was looking for people to just come donate cases of water. It wasn't even a monetary thing. I just said come and donate water," he said.

So far he has collected about 130 cases of bottled water and raised more than $3,000 from fellow firefighters, friends and former classmates for the people of Flint via a GoFundMe page.

Next Saturday, Jan. 30, he will be collecting bottled water at his alma mater Hyde Park Academy High School from 9 a.m.-noon.

"I felt like this school prepared me to become a successful adult. They led me in the right direction, the teachers here," Washington said.

"I think it is a good idea for us to jump on, help Eric out, and actually start a drive here at the school," said Principal Antonio Ross.

Washington plans to drop off all the bottled water at a church in Flint to be distributed to those who need it.

"We have our own problems but at the end of the day, Chicago helps when we see people who need help," he said.

Now he's figuring out how he's going to get the water to Flint - he might now need a larger truck!

Church members in Flint that plan to receive the donations say they are so thankful for the help from our community.