Judge Greg Mathis continued his water donation campaign Saturday by gifting 50,000 bottles of water to the students in Flint, Michigan.
The TV personality and Detroit native said the water would be distributed to schools across the city beginning Monday, NBC 25 News reported. Flint, which is still struggling to recover from a widespread water contamination crisis, also received nine water purifiers to be provided to charter schools in the city, thanks to Mathis.
The former Detroit judge said the crisis’ effect on students’ health is what prompted him to make the massive donation. A recent report by Education Week found that 1 in 5 students in Flint public schools are now eligible for special education classes — a 56 percent increase from the year before the crisis exposed thousands of men, women and children to toxic lead.
Latricia Brown, principal of Northridge Academy, said she’s seen the effects first hand, saying many students at her school now struggle with “cognitive impairment problems, ADHD, the inability to focus.”
Brown has urged state officials, some of whom have been blamed for mistakes that caused the crisis, to come see the damage for themselves.
“I want them to come to our schools, and I want them to see what this poison has done to our students,” she told NBC 25 News. “It’s nothing pretty.”
Michigan officials have maintained Flint’s tap water is now safe to drink, but Mathis said leaders cannot expect families who were impacted by the crisis to trust what the government says.
“It’s difficult to win the confidence of the citizens that you have allowed to be harmed,” he argued.
It’s been five years since the crisis began, and Mathis said many residents still don’t have access to safe water, and are stuck buying their own bottled water after the state ended its free water distribution program.
“Where the government stopped, we’re gonna come in and deliver,” he told the hosts of “The View” last year, recalling how late soul singer and fellow Michigander Aretha Franklin encouraged his work in Flint.
Last November, the judge sent a caravan packed with thousands of cases of water from his foundation in Detroit to the residents in the nearby city. He’s proud of his work and said parents shouldn’t have to take a chance on their kids’ health.
“If you wouldn’t risk it for your children, don’t ask these parents to risk it for theirs,” Mathis added.
Watch more in the video below.