Sara Swanson

Manchester Girl Works to Deliver Water to Flint on Valentines Day

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Annabelle Valentine handing out treats on Main Street last year for Valentines Day in the very cold weather.

Annabelle Valentine handing out treats on Main Street last year for Valentines Day in the very cold weather.

On the past few Valentines Days, many Manchester residents may have seen a little girl with a wagon downtown passing out valentines and cookies to everyone she meets. She is known as “Annabelle Valentine.” Like the main character of the book by which she was inspired, Laurie B. Friedman’s “Love, Ruby Valentine,” eight-year-old Annabelle Celkis has made it her mission to spread love around her village. Starting small when she was 4, with help from her grandma and mother, she has has widened the scope of her efforts as she has gotten older, spreading Valentine love at a Veteran’s Hospital and family homeless shelter, as well as in her hometown of Manchester.

This year, Annabelle will be heading to Flint to deliver cards, cookies and suckers–and with your help, bottled water.

If you can help, drop off bottled water at Frank’s Place restaurant, 104 East Main Street before February 11th. Annabelle will spread her Valentine cheer in downtown Manchester on February 11th, between noon and 3:30 pm (keep an eye out for her!) and pick up the bottled water. She is asking everyone who donates water to attach a valentine with their name to the bottles, so she can add everyone’s name to a big card she is making to deliver with the water.

On Valentines Day, Annabelle will head to Flint to deliver the water she has collected to the Flint Fire Department, her partner in this project. The Fire Department distributes bottled water from the firehouse and restocks it from a warehouse supply. The Flint Fire Department has stated explicitly that while some sources are asking in the media for people to stop sending water, Flint residents will continue to need bottled water for a long time to come, possibly years, and as soon as publicity dies down, they fear, donations will stop coming in.

The water is only half of Annabelle’s plan. She has also been collecting valentine cards all year and she and her mother have already started baking cookies. After the Fire Department, Annabelle will hand out cards, cookies, and suckers at different outdoor locations in Flint.

Annabelle’s mother, Stephanie, posted this request on social media and has already received pledges to send water from all over the country as well as from neighboring towns and local residents. Annabelle’s dad’s employer, Seaview Systems Inc. has offered to receive any large deliveries of water and to store it in their warehouse. If you are not local are would like to send water, have it sent to c/o Seaview Systems Inc., Edward Celkis, 7275 Joy Road, Dexter, MI 48130. In addition they have offered the use of their trucks for delivery, so that the Celkises won’t have to rent a truck.

Stephanie Celkis explained how this project came about. “Annabelle was watching the news with us, and there was a clip of the kids getting blood drawn for testing. She heard the word poisoning and wanted to know what it was about. I explained to her what was going on, but tried to soften the news by explaining that there are a lot of people sending clean water to help out … I told her if she wanted maybe we could try and get Manchester to help Flint. She got soooooo excited.”

As Annabelle has worked on this project, she has said repeatedly, 
”We may be a tiny town, but we are all big heroes.”

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