CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Children in Chicago Public Schools were off Friday, and many of them chose to spend their time helping other children.
R.H. Lee Elementary School on the South Side held a water drive for kids in Flint because of the principal's special ties to that community, and the response was more than they all imagined.
"Flint is my hometown, so there's a big impact for me in being able to give back to the community,” said Principal Lisa Epstein.
When Epstein heard of the water crisis back home, she had to do something. So, she called for help and her hundreds of children answered.
“When they found out it was my hometown, they were adamant about doing something, so we reached out to other public schools and we've had several schools come and help us today,” Epstein said.
Kids from CPS schools around the city all gathered on 68th and Tripp to give cases upon cases of water.
"We were so happy that she got involved with it. That’s why we came here to help,” parent Alondra said. "it was a really fun experience. I loved doing it.”
“I grew up there. The people there are resourceful, big hearted people. And any community would rally here to come together for another community,” said Chicagoan from Flint Gaynor Eisenberg.
"We have our own issues in Chicago. We have our own issues in CPS. We have our own personal things, but they feel there's a connection to the people in Flint. That they can help them out is really heartwarming,” said Chicagoan from Flint Melissa Lederer.
And even though school was out Friday, the kids are still learning a valuable lesson.
“One of the values we try to install upon our children here at Lee is not just in the classroom, but community work and giving back to others,” Epstein said.
"I think it's great that all these children came on their day off to help others. They know that Ms. Lisa gave a shout out to ask for help and we are overwhelmed with the turnout today among parents and students all the way down to kindergarten,” said 3rd grade teacher Eileen Fahey.
The water donations poured in, and more than 2000 cases were collected and will be on their way to Flint in the morning.
“Overwhelmed, overwhelmed by the generosity. A lot of the families we work with struggle on a daily basis and the fact that they’re showing up with cases and cases of water to give to others in need, especially the children of Flint, it's been overwhelming,” Epstein added.
Principal Epstein and her assistant principal will deliver the water to the Children’s Dream House in Flint between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.