Craig Pinto helps those affected by Flint water crisis
Though the headlines, celebrity appearances and political pushes for reform have subsided, the water crisis in Flint, MI, certainly has not. One former Jericho student, and recent Jericho High School Hall of Fame inductee, Craig Pinto, has been working to not only provide aid to those affected, but also bring discussions regarding the matter back to the forefront.
The class of 1996 graduate has had a vested interest in Flint since news broke in 2014 that its residents were being exposed to alarming levels of lead in their untreated water supply. When he began to notice a steady decline in media coverage, he wondered whether the situation was improving, or people had just started losing interest.
“When it all first appeared in the news I had a personal interest,” said Pinto. “I followed the story, but after awhile it just kind of went away. No one was talking about it anymore.”
Upon reaching out to local charities such as Charities of Hope to question whether or not the city of Flint was still in need of any form of help, he was informed that the crisis is still very much a pressing concern. While the water quality was declared to have returned to acceptable levels, residents are still instructed to use only bottled water until all lead piping in the area has been replaced, an endeavor not likely to be finished before 2020.
This information prompted Pinto and his sister Alyssa, a Jericho High School class of 2008 grad, to personally purchase 3,000 water bottles. After posting a photo of what the altruistic duo were doing on their social media pages, many of their friends and followers wanted donate to their cause, and within just a few days, they were able to purchase 25,480 bottles in total.
With the help of Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, the bottles were then dispersed to locals in the affected area.
Due to the unexpected support and subsequent success Pinto and his sister witnessed, they are eager to conduct yet another round of purchases, this time aiming to exceed their initial amount.
“It’s been really eye-opening, because for all that is bad in world, I saw people helping people at drop of hat, sending money without question,” said Pinto. “I definitely think we will match our previous number and hopefully exceed it. If we can hit 50,000 in couple of months that would be fantastic.”
Helping those in need is something that his seemed almost intuitive for Pinto. Hailing from Portuguese immigrant parents, unfamiliar with the language and culture upon moving to America, he witnessed firsthand how the benevolent acts of others can truly make a lasting impact.
“I am where I am because of the help of other people, so if others need help in any way, and I can do it, I will do it,” said Pinto. “I have always had a desire to understand others regardless of how well I may have it in comparison.”
This mindset has been the impetus behind Pinto’s prior undertakings. In 2011, he founded the Kicking 4 Celiac Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to raising money and awareness for the disease that has affected him personally since the age of 11. The organization has since grown, incorporating a scholarship fund, and fundraising events including a 5K and golf outing.
Pinto’s involvement in Flint is only just beginning, as the initiative has much room for growth and participation. He is confident that the next few months will garner the same level of far-reaching support and encouragement from the community.