Flint activist Amaryianna “Mari” Copeny, better known as Little Miss Flint, knows the impact of the city’s water contamination crisis all too well. Now the pint-sized philanthropist is partnering with a Washington-based water filtration firm to ensure folks in her community and beyond have access to safe, clean, drinkable water.
Copeny, who made headlines after inviting then-President Barack Obama to assess the crippling water crisis in her Michigan town in 2014, launched her latest water donation effort last month by raising funds to provide state-of-the-art water filters to communities impacted by poor water quality.
So far, the online campaign has amassed more than $130,000 in donations. And that number continues to grow.
“Thank you to everyone who has donated, shared and commented,” the 12-year-old wrote in a message posted to the campaign’s page Sunday. “We hit the initial goal of $100,000. Our next goal is $150,000 so that we can expand to even more communities dealing with contaminated drinking water.”
Copeny’s push for clean water was made possible thanks to help from Washington, D.C., start-up Hydroviv. The tech firm, which appeared on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” develops high-capacity lead removal water filters, which are then donated to communities impacted by unsafe drinking water, including Flint, New York and, most recently, Newark, New Jersey.
In his pitch to the “sharks,” founder Eric Roy explained that his water filter was actually created in response to the Flint Water Crisis. Toxic amounts of lead was leached into the city’s water supply after officials, in a cost-cutting move, chose to switch its water source from pre-treated water from Detroit to the more acidic Flint River. Thousands of residents were sickened as a result and forced to rely on bottled water for simple tasks, such as cooking, cleaning and bathing.
“Ever since April 2014 my community has been faced with a lead crisis that we’re still recovering from,” Copeny wrote. “What’s even worse is that Flint is not the only community dealing with a water crisis — across this country there are cities and communities being faced with their own water crisis.”
For every dollar donated to her campaign, more than 160 bottles worth of clean drinking water will be provided to communities in need, increasing the impact of bottled water donations fifteen-fold.
“My community needed water they could trust and bottled water was the only resource for drinking water that many in my community trusted,” Copeny continued, explaining that her new partnership with Hydroviv would serve to “maximize the impact of donated funds and eliminate the single-use plastic waste that is associated with bottled water.”
This isn’t the sixth-grader’s first go-round in giving back to her community.
Since the water crisis, Copeny has donated more than a million bottles of water to families impacted by the lead disaster. In recent years, she’s also partnered with nonprofit Pack Your Back and raised over $10,000 to collect and distribute more than 1,000 backpacks to local students in need.