Juanta Griffin shows off the location where residents can drop off water for students impacted by the water crisis in Jackson, MS. (Melissa Elsmo/Food Editor)

Jackson, Mississippi is deep in a water crisis with more than 150,000 residents currently without potable water. The Oak Park Public Library, Suburban Unity Alliance, ROYAL, and Oak Park and River Forest High School have partnered up to host a community water drive for students of Jackson State University and residents of the capital city.

The cause is profoundly personal to Juanta Griffin, Oak Park Public Library’s multicultural learning coordinator. Her son, an OPRF graduate, is a junior at Jackson State University where boil orders are impacting food service programs and daily life.

“I immediately thought I’ve got to get some water to my baby, but it felt wrong to just get water for my son when so many others were suffering,” said Griffin. “I asked myself why somebody wasn’t doing something to help, and I realized I am the somebody who could do something.”

To date the drive has collected enough water that organizers will need to rent a truck to transport it to Mississippi. The water is being stored in several locations including the basement of the Oak Park Library.

The capital city has a population of 163,000; 80% of residents are Black and 30% live below the poverty line. An investigative team from the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General is on the ground in Jackson.

You can help bring a strong finish to the community drive:

Bottled water donations are still being accepted in the Main Library lobby between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. through Friday, Sept. 16. Donations are also being accepted at OPRF. Monetary donations, which will off-set the cost of transport, can be made at www.suburbanunity.org/donate. Simply note “water drive” in the comments. Griffin is clear that donations to cover transport expenses are most critical at this time.

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