By Ken Trainor
At least a dozen clergymen gathered on Chicago's West Side on Jan. 1 for what they called a Water for Life Campaign. The effort was designed to collect more than 1,000 cases of bottled water to deliver in a truck donated by the relief organization World Vision to the residents of the beleaguered city of Flint, Michigan.
A decision made by state and local officials in 2014 to switch water sources resulted in the lead contamination of the city's water supply. According to some reports, at least 6,000 young children have tested positive for lead poisoning — the effects of which include neurological damage among other developmental complications and will likely not be realized until those children mature.
The clergymen said they'll purchase at least 60 more pallets of water from a Sam's Club in Flint once they arrive in the city. They also took at least $6,000 in monetary donations collected from churches across the city and Oak Park.
Rabbi Max Weiss, who is a member of the Leaders Network, the predominantly African-American faith-based social justice organization, has been raising awareness about the Flint crisis among his own flock at Oak Park Temple — which contributed a monetary donation — and throughout the community.
"This isn't an act of God," said Weiss. "This is an act of men. And it shows an incredible disregard for human life and especially for poor lives, for people who don't have political power."
Weiss and other clergymen emphasized that the Jan. 1 effort wouldn't be the last action.
"This should never have happened and it should never be repeated," said Weiss. "That's why efforts like this that call public attention to the crisis are so important. You can't let this rest."
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