Many of the people who came out to donate water and load it on to the trucks were alums of Hyde Park Academy High School.

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WOODLAWN— When Chicago fireman Eric Washington’s plan to take 1,500 cases of bottled water started to gain action, he had no idea that so many people wanted to help. 

“Once DNAinfo wrote the article, it caught on to other media outlets. It took off from there,” Washington said. “The article sparked it all. So many people wanted to help and I wasn’t going to stop them.”

On Saturday morning, Hyde Park Academy High School served as the backdrop for an intense community effort to help those who have been affected by the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, by donating 4,500 cases of bottled water. 

The effort took up the school’s entire block. Several pickup trucks and tractor trailers, along with U-Haul trucks, were used for transport. 

Antonio Ross, Hyde Park’s principal, said that Washington, a 2000 graduate of the school, reached out to him and the rest took care of itself.

“Eric is an alumni of the school and he told us what he wanted to do, so we decided to get involved,” Ross said. “I engaged my school community, then the alumni got on board. A lot the people out here are Hyde Park alums and community members.”

Many of the people who came out to assist Washington, were members of Black Greek fraternities and sororities such as Omega Psi Phi, Zeta Phi Beta, Delta Sigma Theta, Phi Beta Sigma, and many were alums of the South Side school.

Chicago fireman Eric Washington, along with concerned citizens, drove the water to the Michigan city. 

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Many of the people who came out to lend a hand saw the jarring images of the contaminated drinking water and decided that they had to help.

Josie Luster, from Essations, a hair care manufacturer, had strong words for the elected officials in Flint.

“Someone should’ve fired the mayor, the governor and any other state and local officials,” Luster said. “Because they knew about this long before it was communicated to the public.”

Luster, who found about the event through a text message from a friend, say that she was awestruck to see the number of people who came out to give a hand.

“This is one the most awesome experiences I’ve had in a long time,” Luster said. “To see so many black men, women and children, getting the water to go to such a worthy cause.”

Cris Travis has known Washington since their days at Hyde Park, as well as their time on The South Shore Drill Team. She saw Washington’s initial Facebook post.

“We had no idea it would get this big. I’m extremely proud that he would take action like this,” Travis said. “I saw his Facebook posts and we started ask questions from there.”

Washington said he was proud that so many Hyde Park alums came out to support his efforts.

“We definitely came out and represented,” Washington said. “When you get that call, it’s time to represent.”

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Article source: https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20160130/woodlawn/hyde-park-alumni-neighbors-help-fireman-send-4500-cases-of-water-flint