Prisons Collect Nearly 30,000 Water Bottles for Flint Public School Students


Two prisons battled tirelessly for 30 days in an effort to collect water bottles for the students of Genesee County's Intermediate School District in Flint, Michigan. Inmates and employees of the two Michigan prisons collected a total of 29,000 bottles and the prisoners even forked over $600 toward the drive — an impressive number when their prisons only pay them $0.26 an hour, or $1.17 a day.

The drive to collect water bottles for Flint students was a competition between the Oaks Correctional Facility and Pugsley Correctional Facility, with Pugsley technically winning in its collection efforts. "It wasn't us that won. It wasn't Oaks that won. This is going to those kids at ISD in Genesee County," Robert Gauthier, general office assistant at Pugsley and the mastermind behind the water drive, told "They won." 

The inmates handled just about every aspect of the water collection, from reaching out to members of the community for donations, to even recruiting the help of a local grocery store to provide to the cause. When it came to backing the project financially, the prisoners opened up their pockets, offering more money in comparison to their paychecks than the administrators, one Pugsley employee told the Huffington Post on Monday. 

"I think the numbers speak for themselves. To have $600 dollars collected from them when they had very limited money and resources — that speaks volumes," James Dawson told Huffington Post. "[It shows] that they're willing to give back to the community instead of themselves."

"We want society to know that, you know, we're humans and we're here paying our debts to society and correcting our errors and willing to make our contribution to the well-being of our society and our communities," Eladio Nino, an inmate at Pugsley, told "It's enlightening and it's empowering for me to know that I can actually make a contribution to the well-being of others."

The students at the Genesee County's Intermediate School District have already received the first half of their significant contribution from the prison drive. The second fleet of water bottles will be supplied to them on April 12. 

Read more: A 10-Year-Old Just Drew the Only Cartoon About Flint That Anybody Needs to See