Michigan inmates from the Pugsley Correctional Facility in Kingsley and Oaks Correctional Facility in Manistee had a one-month contest to see which prison could collect the most water bottles for students at the Genesee County’s Intermediate School District in Flint.
The competition recently ended and the two facilities came up with a total of 29,000 bottles for the students. And though Pugsley Correctional Facility collected the most bottles, they don’t consider themselves the winners.
“It wasn’t us that won. It wasn’t Oaks that won,” Robert Gauthier, the general office assistant at Pugsley who came up with the idea, said. “This is going to those kids at ISD in Genesee County. They won.”
The staff members at the facility contributed by reaching out to the local communities and grocery stores for water donations. The prisoners contributed $600 by pitching in their hard-earned money — a huge amount, considering some inmates make 26 cents per hour and some make only $1.17 per day.
However, Eladio Nino — who has been in prison for 14 years for murder — considers the act of charity a huge personal achievement.
“It’s enlightening and it’s empowering for me to know that I can actually make a contribution to the well-being of others,” Nino said. “I don’t want my legacy, on a personal note, to be known as somebody who came to prison and who was responsible for taking somebody’s life. I want to be known for somebody who made a contribution to the well-being of the youth and the other people.”
Even the prisoners who couldn't help out financially still did their part by writing letters for donations or through physical labor.
The prisons collected so much water by the end of the month that there was not enough place to store it, so the inmates helped load it in the trucks and send them out to the district in shifts.
The schools have already received the first of half of the water contribution and the rest will be supplied to them by April 12.