Reports on the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan reveal an increasingly desperate situation—not only is the water not fit to drink, but it might not even be safe for bathing (though that hasn’t prevented the city from continuing to charge residents for it). The crisis began nearly two years ago, after the source of drinking water was temporarily switched to the Flint River, a regrettable (to say the least) decision that’s since exposed the town’s residents to lead poisoning and Legionnaires’ disease. The Michigan Attorney General has launched an investigation into whether any state laws were violated when the switch was made, but there’s also the pressing matter of getting potable water to Flint residents. Humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross are already coordinating donations of water and funds, but the call has also been answered by several celebrities, including some with ties to Michigan, who are putting their good fortune to good use.
Pearl Jam has already raised over $350,000 for the United Way of Genesee County via a Crowdrise campaign, including a pledge of $125,000 of its own money. The donations will be used to address immediate concerns with the “purchase of water filters, bottled water, emergency support services and prevention efforts.” Also raising money on Crowdrise are rapper Big Sean, who pledged $10,000 and has raised over $20,000 so far, and Detroit native Jack White. The musician even organized a “water drive” through his Third Man Records label in which customers who donated a gallon or case of water received an in-store discount and were entered in a raffle for a Hateful 8 limited-edition soundtrack package.
Newsweek reports that Cher, who says she’s kept a critical eye on the water crisis since 2014, has partnered with Icelandic Glacial to send nearly 200,000 bottles of water to Flint and urged her fellow artists to show their support. The unofficial charitable quartet of Eminem (also a Detroit native), Wiz Khalifa, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, and Mark Wahlberg has arranged to donate one million bottles of water to Flint residents through AQUAhydrate, a bottled-water company that Combs and Wahlberg partially own. Members of the Detroit Lions, led by Ezekiel Ansah, have pledged 94,000 bottles of water, while Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon pledged $10,000 to the Flint Child Health & Development Fund via the Community Foundation Of Greater Flint. And in the middle of his war of tweeted words against 50 Cent, Meek Mill pledged $50,000 and 60,000 bottles of water, as well as challenged his adversary to follow suit.