Celebrities, Companies Step Up to Help Flint Amid Water Crisis

Soul singer Aretha Franklin plans to offer free hotel rooms and food to some Flint residents affected by the water crisis gripping the city, in which residents were exposed to lead poisoning.

Franklin’s effort is the latest by celebrities and companies either raising money or making donations to help the people of Flint.

“Detroiters usually come to the aid of Detroiters — and Flint is certainly regarded as Detroit,” Franklin, who was raised in Detroit and still lives in the suburbs, told NBC affiliate WDIV Tuesday.

The Queen of Soul plans to provide 25 to 50 hotel rooms, the station reported.

The city’s residents have been told not to drink unfiltered tap water. After the city switched away from Detroit water to save money in 2014, the new water wasn’t properly treated and allowed lead from pipes to leach into drinking water.

The rock band Pearl Jam pledged $125,000 to the United Way of Genesee County and started a crowdfunding effort. A range of corporations and foundations, including Ticketmater, Universal Music Publishing Group and the William Morris Endeavor, joined in with another $175,000, the band said. As of Tuesday afternoon the effort raised more than 370,000.

Image: R&B singer Kem helps Mwamini Wallace carry bottled water to her vehicle in Flint
R&B singer Kem helps Mwamini Wallace carry bottled water to her vehicle in Flint, Mich., Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Kem donated $10,000 to the Salvation Army to aid efforts to provide bottled water to residents in the city where drinking water has been contaminated by lead. Carlos Osorio / AP

Comedian Jimmy Fallon donated $10,000 to the Community Foundation for Greater Flint and challenged others to do the same, and Cher said she would donate more than 181,000 bottles of water to the city.

R&B Singer KEM, raised in Detroit, on Tuesday donated $10,000 to the Salvation Army and passed out water in Flint. The Motown Recording artist also is supporting the Salvation Army’s “text to give” campaign, which will go towards water filters and other support for residents, the nonprofit said.

The crisis ever brought soda rivals PepsiCo and Coca-Cola together. They joined Walmart and Nestle in an effort to provide public schools in Flint with water through the end of 2016, the companies announced Tuesday. Beermaker Anheuser-Busch on Friday said it was sending over 51,000 cans of water to Flint.

A state of emergency has been declared in Flint, and the National Guard has been deployed to pass out water.

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