Wednesday, June 30, 2010

May & June Charities - For the Birds...

Several weeks ago, we went on a camping trip with some friends to Falls Lake State Recreation Park. The shaded spot we chose was right on the water, surrounded by tall pines and maples with birds chirping and fish splashing in the lake. The park offered a free migratory bird program and we had the chance to wander along the beach and through the forests spotting ospreys, eagles, hawks, songbirds and gulls. It was fascinating to learn about their migration patterns and seasonal activities.

So, having just been so absorbed in the lives of birds and blissfully entrenched in natural environs, it's been more than disturbing for us to hear about the terrible conditions of wildlife habitats in the Gulf due to the BP Oil Spill. Recently, we caught a story on NPR about the plight of the brown pelicans on the nesting islands near Grand Isle Louisiana. One biologist, who has been helping to catch the birds so that they can be cleaned and released off the coast of Florida, was choking back tears while she was interviewed; which made me choke back tears of course. A few simple Google searches will bring up photos that will break your heart.

As we've been researching the oil spill online, it's heartwarming to see all the public response to helping the wildlife in the Gulf: kids holding lemonade stands fundraisers and teens organizing garage sales. I was especially intrigued by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Wildlife Triage Center through which hundreds of birds have been processed.

Of course, there are lots of invaluable charities that are helping these habitats and all of them are worthy organizations doing great work. We decided that we not only wanted to help birds, but also help the other natural resources in the gulf. So, for the months of May & June, we have selected The Audubon Society and The Envronmental Defense Fund.

The Audubon Society responded to the oil spill almost immediately, sending volunteers from the Louisiana Coastal Restoration and Mississippi River Initiative. They opened a volunteer response center in Mississippi for the rescue of birds and are working on long-term recovery efforts. Thousands of volunteers are still in the trenches, making nets and cages to help.

The Environmental Defense Fund is not only helping on the ground with recovery efforts, but they are also restoring the coast, establishing clean-energy regulations, and establishing scientific research to track the ongoing impact of oil on the environment. We appreciate and applaud this multi-faceted approach to the disaster.

Learn more about these two tremendous organizations! You can follow the Environmental Defense Fund on Twitter @EnvDefenseFund and the Audubon Society @audubonsociety.

Additional Resources:
BP Oil Gulf Response Home Page
Deepwater Horizon Response Website

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Spare Change with a Huge Impact

I've noticed that even though we decided on supporting only 12 charities this year, we've been donating to quite a few more with barely a second thought.

For instance, at the McDonald's, we gave our spare change to the Ronald McDonald House Charities at the drive-thru window. At the Food Lion, while shopping for groceries, we gave $1.00 to their Shop & Care program benefitting Easter Seals UCP (United Cerebal Palsy) in North Carolina. We stopped in at AC Moore and donated a buck towards their Easter Seals Act for Autism project. My daughter's school had a fundraiser for the Childood Leukemia Foundation. We also saved our boxtops for Boxtops for Education PTA fundraiser.

In 2009, Ronald McDonald House Charities raised over $18 million from the spare change boxes on their countertops. Last year, Food Lion raised over 3 million dollars in four short weeks through the Shop & Care program. Boxtops for Education has raised over 320 million dollars for schools - nine million in our state of North Carolina alone.

Small change CAN really make a difference! Literally, the coins in your car, together with the millions of other coins in millions of other cars, can help change the world and make a tremendous difference in the lives of so many. So, don't pass up the opportunity to give a little spare change to those boxes on store countertops and know that you have a hand in something great!