Galion residents Steven Glew and Ben Rinehart have the desire to help others and were paying attention when they read an article in a Scholastic newsletter about the plight of people living in Flint, Mich.
Water is necessary to sustain life and the two fourth graders immediately took action to help provide clean, lead-free drinking water to people across the affected region in the neighboring state.
“We made flyers and set a goal of 100 cases of water to collect and then deliver to the people in Flint,” said Steven.
Ben said that while improvements have been made to the contaminated water situation in Flint, the crisis is far from over.
The boys have exceeded their goal and had collected over 180 cases of water, plus several jugs, earlier this week.
“People can still donate water until April 22,” Steven said.
Steven told his mom, Cindy Glew, of his plans to collect water for Flint a few weeks ago.
“After school the next day, Steven told me his friend, Ben, was coming over so they could make a brochure for their project. They had already gone to their principal (Alex Sharick) to get the project approved,” said Cindy.
Rinehart said they asked his pastor at Grace Point Church if they could collect the cases of water there.
“We found out that our pastor’s daughter goes to a church in Flint called Cross Water. Our pastor, Paul Walter, helped us set it up for that to be the delivery point and we are collecting the water at Grace Point and at school,” Rinehart said.
Both boys are 10-years-old and are in Donna Shipley’s fourth grade class at Galion Intermediate School.
“I am so very impressed by both of these boys. They had the forethought to take on this project to help others. It is just amazing. They did this all on their own,” Shipley said. “They are only 10 years old, imagine what they will do in their lifetime.”
The boys went from business to business, securing donations for expenses to offset costs to deliver the water to Flint and put up their flyers around town. They also garnered the donation of a truck to haul the water through Dearman Moving and Storage in Mansfield.
“The boys did everything on their own and have done a remarkable job. I am so proud of them,” Jeanie Rinehart, Ben’s mother.
Grace Point Church interviewed the boys on stage during a recent Sunday service. During the interview, Steven and Ben were surrounded on stage by their “Castle of Water.”
“It felt good being on that stage because knowing all that water that was on the stage was going to the people of Flint and was going to bless them,” Ben said. “Our classmates and teachers have been helpful with donations too.”
The boys will leave on April 23 with their families to make the trip to Cross Water in Flint to deliver the water. Cross Water is an organization that provides safe drinking water to Flint residents and also works with families, focusing on educating pregnant mothers and families with small children about the dangers of lead consumption.
“We are so proud of Ben and his determination, but even more than that, we are inspired by his desire to help meet the needs of others,” Jeanie Rinehart said. “He has a very kind and compassionate heart and we look forward to watching him continue to make a difference in the lives of others!”
Cindy said she is awe of her son.
“Watching Steven made me feel extremely proud and excited for his passion,” Cindy said. “I am continually impressed by his courage, confidence and leadership qualities. I think the best part is that this was not a project for school or church, just something they wanted to do and made it happen.”
Community members can take donations to the Galion Intermediate School or Grace Point Church, located at 683 Portland Way N. in Galion.
“This is awesome,” Grubbs said. “I’m proud of these boys for working diligently to help others, and our Galion community for their contributions to show Ben and Steven the power they have to make a positive change in people’s lives.”
Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras