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12-Year-Old Starts Clean Water Fund To Help Communities With Contaminated Water

On April 25th, 2014, looking to save money, state officials switched Flint, Michigan’s drinking water supply from the Detroit city system to the Flint River. The switch resulted in city-wide contamination of the Flint, Michigan water system. Improperly treated and highly corrosive lead-filled water began leaching out from aged pipes into thousands of homes. Soon following, complaints of dark, foul-tasting and smelly water began surfacing. Complaints grew further with reports of skin rashes and hair loss. Tests found significant water samples with lead levels well above “action level,” with some more than 100 times the action level. Until now the contamination has affected Flint residents of all age groups and has yet to be fully addressed by the state, leaving locals to fend for themselves.

In response, many celebrities and notable figures voiced their outrage in an attempt to raise awareness. With a lack of initial action from the state, citizens partnered with the NRDC (National Resources And Defense Council) and the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) to bring the local government before a federal court. This action resulted in no state compliance although they did not ask for monetary damages. In 2017, after pressure, a settlement was reached with the state government that required them to locate and remove all lead from the water systems by 2020. Up to $97 Million was allocated to the effort. The battle for clean water is still ongoing.

Enter Little Miss Flint,  Mariyanna Copeny, who was just 8-years-old when she decided to pen a letter to President Barack Obama in order to bring awareness to the Flint Water Crisis. Moved by the letter, Obama visited the city in 2016. Witnessing first hand the devastating impact water contamination had on the community, Obama declared a federal state of emergency, thereby bringing the crisis to national attention. As the efforts urge onward, Copeny has continued raising awareness through speeches, free water bottle distribution and various community efforts. 

Now 12, Copeny’s latest move finds her partnering with water filtration company Hydroviv H2O to bring water filters into the homes of Flint citizens. To achieve this, she started a GoFundMe with an initial goal of raising $100,000. The page highlights not only Flint, but water issues in Newark, NJ, Pittsburgh, PA, and New York City as well.

A donation of just $1 provides the equivalent of 160 water bottles. With so many issues facing the world today, sometimes it can be overwhelming and seemingly hopeless. Yet, Copeny shows us that every little bit helps.

As of September 29, 2019, the GoFundMe surpassed the $100,000 goal and is now at a goal of $150,000, with $124,796 donated in total so far.