H-F community delivers water, goodwill to University Park neighbors

In a rally of neighborly sympathy and support, several members of the Homewood-Flossmoor community are collecting water, funds and supplies for residents of University Park.
  Meredith Thetford, right,
  worked with her 
daughter
  Hattie, and 
neighbors including
  
Becki Calomino, left, and
  
Aja Moore to collect and deliver
  water for University Park
  residents. 
(Provided photo)
 

About 1,000 households in University Park remain under a “do not consume” order, issued by utility Aqua Water on June 14 after elevated levels of lead were detected in the tap water of several properties.

 
As news of the problem spread, Homewood resident Meredith Thetford found out about it and got inspired to help when she saw a Facebook post by a friend who was collecting water at work.
 
“I thought I’d throw something out there (on Facebook). Nothing’s going to happen if nobody does anything,” Thetford said. 
 
“I tagged a bunch of people in the community that I know. I thought, ‘Let’s just see who can come forward, who expresses interest.’ I know our community is strong for things like this. I knew it would turn out well, and it did.”
  Water donations
  piled up quickly.
 
 (Provided photo)
 

 

With help from Homewood Trustee Lisa Purcell, who gathered donations at St. Joseph Catholic Church parking lot in Homewood, Thetford and other friends collected hundreds of gallons of water and $620. 
 
In cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs, the group delivered the donations to two churches in University Park, who were responsible for distributing them.
 
“I thought it was important for us to support our neighbors,” Thetford said. “We wanted to show them they’re not alone. We see what’s going on, and we recognize it.”
  Gallons of water were
  collected as well as
  cases. 
(Provided photo)
 

The entire effort was organized and executed in less than a day. Thetford said she was amazed how quickly it came together and how many neighbors responded to her call.

 
After seeing Thetford’s success, Kimberley Lipe put out her own request on Facebook for local residents to support University Park neighbors through a collection she’s organizing at Flossmoor Community Church. 
 
“Yes, Meredith's chutzpah inspired me,” said Lipe, who is vice chair of the church’s Board of Outreach Ministries. She is becoming chair of the board, which will continue work soon under its new name, Faith in Action.
 
After worship around 11 a.m. Sunday, July 7, the church will be collecting gallon jugs and cases of water, as well as hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, disposable plates, cups, bowls and cutlery. 
 
The water utility Aqua Water has been delivering bottled water to affected residents, Lipe learned from a University Park village representative. What residents need most now are items that help offset the burden of having no water to wash dishes or cleanse hands.
 
“I felt that we as a church should be involved,” Lipe said. “I have always been a firm believer in the Epistle of James. First you pray and then you do something. That's how prayer works.”
 
To help the residents of University Park affected by the “do not consume” order, bring the following items to Flossmoor Community Church at 11 a.m. Sunday:
 
• Gallon jugs of water
• Cases of water
• Hand sanitizer
• Sanitizing wipes
• Disposable plates and bowls 
• Disposable cups
• Disposable cutlery
 

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