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Holland Headlines

Providing Clean Drinking Water to Flint Families

EPISODE FOUR: Today most residents of Flint, MI still don’t have safe clean drinking water in their homes. Until a permanent fix can be implemented, many Flint families are relying on bottled water during the crisis. Recently, Holland and many of our St. Louis, MO and Birch Run, MI employees were involved in transporting and delivering more than 78 tons of donated water (or about 100 pallets full of bottled water) to Flint.

(L/R: Holland 2-million mile driver Roy Gillespie;
Rachel Jackson, Founding Exec. Dir. of Project
Compassion; Mayor Reggie Jones, City of Dellwood,
MO; Korey K. Johnson from the Korey Johnson Foundation)

The last week of February, three St. Louis, MO non-profits held a drive to collect donated bottled water to send to Flint. They rented a 20 ft. moving truck imagining they would never fill it. Their efforts were far more successful than any of the organizers could have imagined! They had hoped to collect 1,000 cases--instead they collected far more than 10,000 cases (over 200,000 bottles) of clean drinking water.

The drive was the brainchild of Rachel Jackson, the founding Exec. Dir. of Project Compassion Belleville. Her organization teamed up with 2 other nonprofits, the Korey Johnson Foundation and Beyond Limit Productions.

As the collection drive progressed, cases of water began to pile up until the the original truck overflowed and cases were stacked outside and all around it. Not only did they have more water than their truck could hold--they had more than they could even find a place to store overnight.

"We started at 10 a.m. and by noon we realized we had a water problem," she said, laughing. "Water began to pile up outside the truck and all around us."

The magnitude of the problem became increasingly clear as day became night and then morning again. After securing temporary places to stash the bounty, Jackson and her fellow organizers labored until 5 a.m. to get all the water out of the elements and safely stored.

That’s when Holland professional linehaul driver, Roy Gillespie, stepped in. Roy has reached the safety milestone of driving 2 million miles without a collision. He has been instrumental in many disaster relief efforts and is well known in the St. Louis area. He has helped the Red Cross get supplies delivered to the places that need them. When Roy connected with Rachel Jackson, he knew this was a problem he and Holland could solve.

"I contacted the company and asked Holland President Scott Ware if we could ship the donated water to Flint and received approval. All of it--which filled four 53 ft. trailers--was transported from St. Louis to Flint, MI via Holland at no charge."

And that's not all. On Saturday, Feb. 28-29, over 30 Holland employees and local Teamsters were on hand to supervise and mentor the palletizing and packing of the truck. As Roy explained, loading from the ground, packing and palletizing water is not as simple as just loading pallets into a truck. Water is heavy and these days, donated plastic bottles of varied sizes are extremely lightweight. Pack them incorrectly and there could be damage to both the truck and its precious cargo.

Also on hand during the day and into the evening were many volunteers who helped to load the four large trailers--the Korey Johnson Foundation, Beyond Limits Production, Project Compassion, members of the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force, Missouri National Guard, North County Boy Scouts, Metro North Fire Dept., members of local churches, St. Louis Slam Professional Ladies Football Team, Job Corps, St. Louis County PD, City of Dellwood Police, H.E.R.O.E.S. CARE, Ms. Missouri, KMOV4 TV, KTV1-Fox 2, KMOV, KSDK, Radio One St. Louis, A-Plus Radio One radio personality, Project One, and many others.

The palletizing and loading continued all day, through the night and into the next day. Roy contacted local businesses who donated rib sandwiches, pizzas, hotdogs, hamburgers, buns and condiments to feed the hungry volunteers. The Metro North Fire Dept. was on hand to man the grills and barbecue.

As water was being loaded and the efforts were being broadcast on the radio and news stations, many Holland customers learned about the event, went out and bought cases of water and made more donations during the palletizing and loading event…sometimes pickup loads full...enough to fill another Holland trailer and a half...bringing the total count to 4 very full trailers.

Our "Trucking Moves America Forward" (TMAF) Holland trailers filled with clean, clear drinking water left St. Louis and headed to our Holland terminal in Birch Run, just outside of Flint, MI. There Holland employees pitched in again. They were there to deliver and help unload the more than 78 tons of water--mostly by hand--onto the pavement where it was sorted and loaded via human chains, unloading water, case-by-case from the trailer into waiting cars and trucks for door-to-door delivery.

Said Holland employee, Keith Soyza (Birch Run Terminal Manager), “Holland was founded in Michigan. We have five service centers here. This crisis is in our backyard. We all felt we needed to help out. I’m glad Holland was there to pitch in and do our part.”


Curious about why this article began with the subtitle “Episode Four”? Well, so far in 2016, there have been five different times Holland has transported water to Flint from cities across our footprint.

Episode One--The last week of January and the week beyond, Janice Wit from The Reola Grant Center for Family Life Development asked our Kansas City, KS terminal for help in transporting 90,000 bottles of donated water (equal to 38 pallets/two full trailers) gratis to Ebenezer Ministries in Flint.

Episode Two--Also last week of January and the week beyond, Holland Indianapolis, IN professional driver Don Jackson, while making his regular stop at Allegion, noticed pallets of water stacked up inside the Allegion warehouse. One of their employees had lived in Flint. He and his fellow employees together collected over 10,000 bottles of water that needed to get to Flint families. Holland delivered. Members of the local Flint high school sports team came out to help unload the bottled water via human chains, case-by-case into their local high school.

Episode Three--Mid-February, Russ Simpson, American Trucking Associations Road Team Captain and Columbus, OH City Driver for Holland volunteered to drive and deliver 22 donated skids of bottled water weighing in at 41,000 lbs. to Flint to assist with the drinking water crisis.

Episode Four--Our current episode--On Feb. 27 and the following week, Holland and many of our St. Louis, MO and Birch Run, MI employees were involved in transporting and delivering more than 78 tons of donated water (or about 100 pallets full of bottled water) to Flint.

Episode Five--On March19 and the following week, Team Holland loaded up one of its 53 ft. “Trucking Moves America Forward” trailers full of water donated by the Boys & Girls Club of Greater St. Louis to Flint, MI to help in their water crisis. Thanks to all the volunteers who showed up to help the teens load the donated water for the residents of Flint, MI. The water was delivered 3/23/16.

Holland and its many employees across our service footprint--from St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Columbus to Birch Run (who manually delivered all of the shipments)--great examples of Team Holland making a difference.

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