Little Miss Flint says that, despite a water crisis and a pandemic, the children of the mid-Michigan city still deserve a Christmas. And she wants you to help.
FLINT, Mich.—The happiest parts of Christmastime in Michigan are reserved for children: building snowmen, sledding, too much hot chocolate, and tearing through presents on Christmas morning.
Everyday Michiganders in the area are still working to help the city’s economy recover after the a GM plant closure in 1987, and handle the added financial burden of bottled water and increased medical bills since the Flint Water Crisis that allowed a government-sanctioned poisoning of the city’s water supply by then-Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.
Since, illness has been rampant in the community, particularly impacting children.
Thirteen-year-old Mari Copeny has been on a mission to bring global awareness to Flint’s needs for the past five years. Copeny gained national attention when a letter she wrote to President Barack Obama asking him to visit the city to witness the effects of the contaminated water system was published by the LA Times, gaining her the moniker “Little Miss Flint.”
Not to let the notoriety go to waste, Copeny and her mother began advocating on behalf of the children of Flint and, more than five years later, Little Miss Flint is still at it.
“So many kids here in Flint go without,” Copeny told The ‘Gander, as she promoted the city’s needs this holiday season.
Even during the pandemic, she’s still campaigning for the city’s children.
A Christmas Wish
Copeny usually hosts a holiday party that raises money for Flint youth, but due to the coronavirus limiting gatherings, she’s chosen a new option for 2020: an online Christmas wish list.
“It’s important to remember the kids in Flint because they are not only dealing with a pandemic, they are dealing with the long lasting effects of having toxic water,” she said.
“Flint kids deserve a little bit of Christmas magic and joy.”
Copeny’s wish list is registered through Target and all purchases will go directly to Flint children. So far, more than 200 toys have been purchased, but there are still items remaining on the list.
A recent settlement would award $600 million in damages to residents and others affected by the water with potentially lethal levels of lead contamination.
“We acknowledge that this settlement may not completely provide all that Flint needs,” a statement released from Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s office read.
“Many will still feel justifiable frustration with a system and structure that at times is not adequate to fully address what has happened to people in Flint over the last six years.”
Watch Gov. Whitmer’s statement regarding the $600 million settlement with Flint residents below.