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Thirst Project School Tour comes to U of M today

Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 00:12

thrist project water

Photo courtesy of Thirst Project

The average cost to build a freshwater well in most developing nations is between $5,000 and $12,000. Representatives from Thirst, a nonprofit organization that raises money to offset these nations’ water crises, will be on campus today.

Memphis is known for its clean water, but the Thirst Project School Tour on campus today aims to tell the campus community more about the lack of clean water around the world.

Thirst representatives will be set up in the University of Memphis Campus Store and Café at 2 p.m. to talk about the need for clean water around the world, in hopes of influencing students to get involved with the cause.

Eight college students started the project in 2007 when they were able to turn $70 into $1,700 by giving away water bottles on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, Calif., and telling people about their cause.

After establishing the organization, they began traveling to middle schools, high schools and college campuses around the country to talk to students about water crises and give them the knowledge and tools to start their own fundraisers.

“Shockingly, children spend their days seeking out a water source — [which] in many cases [is] dirty — and carrying water to their villages instead of [going to school],” Donna Collier, campus store manager, said.

Memphis and Shelby County are known for having some of the cleanest water in the world, according to The water comes from a natural reservoir, hundreds of feet underground, located in a sand aquifer that acts as a natural filter. However, many cities and countries in the United States and around the world have to go through extensive cleansing methods to get clean water, or they do not have clean water at all.

“It is clear that access to water is a huge barrier to education in many parts of the world,” said Elio DiStaola, director of public and campus relations at Follett Higher Education Group.

Follett Higher Education Group is the manager of the University’s bookstore and a supporter of the Thirst Project. They helped the University coordinate the event, and Collier said that is why the University chose the bookstore as the venue for the tour.

“At Follett, we’ve helped the Thirst team spread their very important message — the importance of clean and healthy water for a host of reasons, including education,” DiStaola said.

He said the project’s strong sustainability model should be applauded. Follett Higher Education Group has joined the Thirst Project in fundraising efforts. Recently, Follett has used its stores to recruit “Road Warriors” — students, like founder Seth Maxwell, who travel and spoke about the global water crisis to promote the message.

“[Follett’s] support has been vital in our efforts to drive awareness of the need for accessible, clean drinking water in communities around the world,” Maxwell said.

Follett and the Thirst Project have a commitment to ensure that young adults have the knowledge and resources they need to succeed.

“Education and awareness can drive greatness,” DiStaola said.

Collier welcomes students, faculty and staff to attend the event and get involved in the cause.

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