Student volunteer Mateo Piper (front right) and student workers Nina Pu (left) and Julia Selig (center) from the Student Development & Activities office organize the loading of donated water bottles.

Student volunteer Mateo Piper (front right) and student workers Nina Pu (left) and Julia Selig (center) from the Student Development & Activities office organize the loading of donated water bottles. Photo by Jessica Bibbee

WCC collection more than doubles its target goal, adds to Washtenaw County Water Drive Coalition

It’s 54 miles straight up US-23 from Ann Arbor to Flint. But the communities grew much closer together in the last few weeks.

In response to the lead contamination water crisis affecting the residents of Flint, Washtenaw Community College staff, faculty and students joined a county-wide effort to collect water donations.

Jason Morgan, director of Government and Community Relations at WCC, felt that the college had a responsibility as a public institution to get involved in the county-widewater drive, led by state Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor.

In order to load and move that much water, Morgan asked Brandon Trucker, dean of Advanced Technology & Public Service Careers at WCC, for assistance in securing transportation. Dave Haight of Michael K Trucking also donated a trailer that was used in transporting the water donations.

After earlier conversations with members of the Rotary Club of Dexter and Trustee Diana McKnight-Morton, Morgan knew who to call.

“If it weren’t for Pete Leshkevich on the ground, making sure that all that water got loaded and that we had the volunteers to help with that, we wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
Leshkevich, director of Student Development & Activities, has overseen and participated in many volunteer efforts in his 13 years at the college.

“I’ve seen some major efforts in the areas of giving and donations and kindness and service, but this event was a little bit different,” he said.

From volunteers and collection to the short notice and demand for transportation, Leshkevich organized the logistics that aren’t always visible to the public.

With a goal to collect enough bottled water donations to fill an entire semi trailer, or roughly 600 cases, WCC’s efforts more than doubled the goal, resulting in the collection of more than 1,250 cases — more than 30,000 bottles of water and addition of another semi trailer.

Not that Morgan was surprised by the turnout.

“It was a much larger undertaking than I ever imagined,” he said. “It was only because the community response was so positive and supportive that we had far more water and donations than we expected.”

“The most important thing in an effort like this is the people who gave of their time and effort,” Leshkevich explained. “The Auto Tech guys who helped pack everything and get it to Flint and unload it volunteered their time.”

Nina Pu is a 21-year-old student officer in the Student Development & Activities, serving as President of the English as a Second Language Club. She worked the event as staff and then stayed after hours as a volunteer on her own time.

A native of China, Pu admits she had never gotten involved in social volunteering opportunities in her homeland.

“I came here and saw that volunteering is a really big deal for Americans, she said. “I feel happy when I volunteer, because I think it’s a good thing to help your community.”
In total, 200,000 bottles of water were donated to the citizens of Flint through the Washtenaw County Water  Drive Coalition. While some donated water, others donated money amounting to more than $23,000 raised on the GoFundMe page, Washtenaw Water Drive for Flint.

Leshkevich was humbled by the campus community response.

“There’s an overwhelming desire to do good things that comes from our campus community, and supporting that is a privilege,” he said.

By Jessica Bibbee

Work Study Student, Public Relations