Water barrel program continues to help the houseless

TRI-CITES, Wash. — In high heat temperatures, it’s important to stay hydrated. One local group is working to keep those without homes with ready access to water.

Clean Sweep Tri-Cities is a group dedicated to helping the community. The group leads a water barrel project: blue barrels filled with water bottles are left on the street for everyone to have ready access to free and clean water.

Lynee McKee leads the water ministries for Clean Sweep Tri-Cities. “We set them out for the houseless, but there’s a lot of people that, as they’re walking down the street, forget how hot it is. And so they grab a bottle of water, that’s great, that’s what it’s there for.”

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The barrels are routinely filled with ice, but keeping the water ice cold is not the goal. After some research, McKee found that drinking water at a much cooler temperature than the outside air was not helpful. “We try to keep it luke-warm temperature,” she explains.

In addition to the water barrels, McKee says turning on park sprinklers also helps the houseless cool during high heat. “The last heatwave, the parks had sprinklers on and the people were totally, totally enjoying them.

“They were getting wet, they were cooling off, it was 120 degrees. This week isn’t supposed to be quite as high, but it’s still hot. So I pray that they’ll turn the sprinklers back on and leave them running.”

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The program originally started with three barrels, but is now down to two. They would like to put up more barrels, but are in need of more volunteers and supplies, including water bottles, ice, and barrels to keep the program running.

Clean Sweep Tri-Cities does a variety of different programs that benefit the local community, including helping the houseless, distributing food supplies, and assisting the elderly. The program started in June of 2020, and is has over 1,600 local members. “We work where we can, and help who we can help. It’s a great group,” McKee says.

For more information on how to volunteer or donate to Clean Sweep Tri-Cities, check out their Facebook page here.

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