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Michigan resident trades Twitter handle for 41000 water bottles for Flint

Michigan resident trades Twitter handle for 41000 water bottles for Flint

A Michigan woman with an unusual Twitter handle gave up her username as part of a good deed — that wound up benefitting the residents of Flint, Mich.

Diana Hussein of Dearborn, Mich. has held the name @DietDrPepper for seven years, according to the Detroit Free Press. Hussein was able to snag the Twitter handle before companies began signing up for the social media site.

“I never expected Twitter to take off in the way it did, where brands would be all over, including sodas with their own accounts,” Hussein told the Free Press.

The 29-year-old told Arab American News that she had contacted Dr. Pepper in 2013 to exchange the handle, but the company didn’t truly get serious about taking the Twitter handle until last January.

In exchange for @DietDrPepper, the company offered Hussein branded “swag.”

Although others have sold their Twitter accounts — despite Twitter policy banning the practice — Hussein told Arab American News that as a communications specialist for labor union Unite Here, it didn’t feel right to do so.

“It was shady,” she told the publication. “Given my profession, I didn’t want to bring that kind of unethical shade over my position.”

Instead, Hussein found that Dr. Pepper also owns a bottled water company, as part of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. As news of the water crisis in Flint was being covered around that time, Hussein decided to ask the brand to instead donate bottled water to the town.

“They were really great and welcoming about the idea,” Hussein told SFGATE. “They let me know that they had actually sent some pallets of water to Flint already and had also been selling bottles to local churches at cost.”

The company offered to donate $5,000 worth of water to the town on behalf of Hussein — about 41,000 bottles — and delivered on their promise on March 3.

Deja Blue delivered the 24 pallets of water to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan, according to the Metro Times.

When asked if she was surprised by the amount of water the company chose to donate, Hussein said she didn’t realize the donation of 24 pallets was as large as it was — at first.

“When I was told what one pallet actually equalled, I thought it was pretty cool,” Hussein said. “The thing is, though, I’ve been recently told that 41,000 water bottles can help 100 families in Flint for 1 month.

“That is pretty great, but the outlook for Flint residents isn’t all that great,” Hussein continued. “There’s no fix coming anytime soon. Definitely not in a month.”

Now, Hussein is tweeting under the handle @heyadiana, where she continues to encourage more donations for Flint.

“I’m hoping people can see that as great as the contribution from Dr. Pepper was, there’s still so much need for the people of Flint,” Hussein said.

Meanwhile, Hussein said the attention she’s received from the water donation has been “meaningful.”

“I’m really grateful for the positive response people have given and I feel particularly proud for the response I’ve received from Arab and Muslim Americans,” Hussein said. “That’s really meaningful, and why I’m hoping to raise better awareness for the situation Flint is still currently in, where they could use some help still.”