The Ohio State Department of Athletics is hosting a bottled-water drive until Thursday evening to provide clean drinking water for the community of Flint, Michigan, in response to their public water crisis.
The idea for the drive began when Joy Cheek, assistant coach of the women’s basketball team, reached out to Caleb Clark, assistant director of fan experience and promotions for OSU athletics, after the women’s team played in Ann Arbor on Jan. 21.
“She asked if it would be possible to do something like this and donate some water to Flint,” Clark said.
The collection effort kicked off at the men’s hockey game against Minnesota on Friday, and it will continue throughout the week. Fans can donate bottled water at the men’s basketball game against Michigan on Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. outside the Schottenstein Center at the Northwest Rotunda.
The final night of the drive will take place on Thursday from 5 to 6:30 p.m. when the women’s basketball team takes on Nebraska.
Asia Doss, sophomore guard on the OSU women’s basketball team and a native of Detroit, said she visited Flint throughout high school for away games during her basketball career and has many friends who are from there.
“All that time we did absolutely nothing, that’s what shocks me the most,” Doss said, reflecting on her initial reaction upon learning that the water in Flint was contaminated with lead.
Doss, whose sister, Erica, is a social worker in the Detroit area and was placed on the water-crisis team for Flint, said that larger bottles of water are important donations, too.
“Big jugs of water will help because the children have to bathe,” she said.
Pete Hanson, coach of the OSU men’s volleyball team, is a native of Flint and grew up there. He said he has fond memories of playing sports there as a child and that the current situation is sad.
“When you turn on your tap water, you expect good water to be flowing and not harmful to your family,” Hanson said. “It’s just a disappointing situation, and I think I would react that way to any city across the country, whether I was a native of that town or not. That shouldn’t happen in this day in age, in the country that we’re in and the resources and technology that we have.”
Fans who donated at Friday night’s game shared similar thoughts.
“A bottled water case costs less than ($5) in most places, so I think it’s a great contribution,” said Jay Wells, who, along with his three sons, brought water to donate at Friday night’s hockey game.
Ken Blair, president of Circle Express Inc., usually drives his OSU football truck during the season when it is filled with the team’s equipment. But on Friday, he will instead drive the truck carrying the water collected at the three games to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, one of three organizations in the area that is accepting water.
Clark said he hopes that after the collection is over, Blair will be delivering 20 palettes of water bottles, which is the most that the truck can carry.
Asim Hussain, a fourth-year in pharmacy, said that when people are in need, it transcends rivalries and competition.
“These are just people that need help, and we’re doing all that we can to provide basic need, that is water, to them,” he said.
Dana Stuckey of New Albany also shared Hussain’s sentiments on rivalries.
“We don’t give a damn about the whole state of Michigan, except for Flint,” he said.
Correction Feb. 16: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Dana Stuckey.