Local residents are stepping forward and donating cases of bottled water that will soon be shipped to Flint, Michigan, where the city's water supply has been contaminated with lead.
Cases were arriving Monday morning at True Bethel Baptist Church on East Ferry Street in Buffalo. Most new deliveries were piled up just inside the main lobby but Bishop Darius Pridgen, pastor of the church and also a Buffalo Common Councilmember, said there were many more cases being stored where space was available throughout the church facility.
When the church began its bottled water drive, the hope was to fill a van that would later travel to Flint to deliver the donations. The van won't be big enough.
"Right now we're OK to use our gutted-out school bus, which is our clothing truck," said Pridgen. "But if not, as of last night an 18-wheeler driver called me, who belongs to this church, and said if we've got to pull out the big one, we'll pull out the big one and we'll get it there."
Several volunteers from the Buffalo area will travel to Flint this coming weekend to participate in distribution efforts. As Pridgen explained, the local delegation will not simply show up and give out their bottles. Those will be forwarded to a warehouse along with other collections. The volunteers will instead receive directions upon arrival and work alongside Red Cross officials to distribute water.
Churches in Rochester and Syracuse are collaborating with True Bethel Baptist Church, which is continuing to collect bottled water through the middle of the week. Donations will be accepted at its church in Niagara Falls, 1120 South Street, until Wednesday. The other two locations, at 907 East Ferry Street and 472 Swan Street, will accept donations until Thursday.