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MC Donates Water to Local High School
As the water crisis in Jackson MS worsens, students step in to help where they can.
Mississippi College recently conducted a drive to collect bottled water for Forest Hill High School in Jackson. MC’s Community Service Center served as the base of operations for the drive which resulted in 52 cases collected. Financial donations were also accepted.
Forest Hill is located 15 minutes from the MC campus. Along with the rest of Jackson Public Schools, Forest Hill moved to virtual learning on Aug. 25 because of the capital city’s water crisis. students of Forest Hill were able to return in person on Sep. 9.
“Even with the water crisis still going on, they have low water pressure, but it’s still not drinkable,” said Shari Barnes, MC’s Community Service Center Director, and a graduate of Forest Hill.
Rebecca Benson, Assistant Dean of Christian Leadership, and Barnes brainstormed ways to help the Jackson community. Among ideas was donating water to a Jackson high school. Barnes immediately thought of Forest Hill, MC’s administration approved, and the water drive was underway. All the water bottles donated are solely for the use of the school and its students.
Litzy Trejo is a Communication major and Forest Hill graduate.“For the years that I was there, we also experienced many water issues,” Trejo said. “[MC’s willingness to help] with this situation is the best thing that could happen to Forest Hill’s students, staff, and faculty at the moment.”
The issue of Jackson’s water system has been building for a long time. Problems date back for decades. Water for the entire city of Jackson is distributed from two plants, the O.B. Curtis Water Plant and the J.H. Fewell Water Treatment Plant. Fewell was built in 1908 and was expected to close down years ago when the population of Jackson increased; O.B. Curtis was built in 1980. Both plants have experienced difficulties. One of the city’s problems is a lack of funds to replace old pipes.
“A few times a year, we’ve had a boil water notice because something has gone wrong at the water plant or something has contaminated the water,” said Caitlyn Vickery, a piano performance major and Jacksonian. “[The water crisis has] been building, and this is the worst it has ever been. It feels like the climax of a really long series of events.”
Because the city of Clinton runs on a different water system, students may believe that the issue does not affect them. But the Jackson water crisis affects MC students in more ways than one. Several students are from Jackson and have families living there, struggling to find clean water to accomplish everyday tasks.
“We’ve had to put all of our dishes on standing wash,” said Vickery. “It got to the point where we were washing clothes at our aunt’s house because the water was so dirty. My mom said she took a shower, and her hair felt more gross than it did before.”
Many churches and non-profit organizations have held their own water drives for locals to grab water. Now, MC is stepping up, too.
“There is a need right now in Jackson,” Barnes said. “That is not something they brought on themselves. If there is a way MC Choctaws can support the community, that’s what we want to do.”
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