UPDATED: More ways to help oil spill cleanup
The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores is looking for volunteers and donations of supplies, which include linens, kennels, towels, sheets, Dawn dish detergent, Pepto-Bismol and toothbrushes to rescue injured birds and for coastal cleanup. The sanctuary is a local drop-off center for the donations at 18328 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores. It is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. See their website for details or call (727) 391-6211 for information. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you don’t want to drive that far (and waste fuel!) drop off stations are being added every day so check back here as we add update this post. Madeira Beach Elementary School, 749 Madeira Beach Causeway, is a drop-off site for supplies during school hours. The Tradewinds Resort on St. Pete Beach, 5500 Gulf Blvd., is also taking donations at all hours. Nikos Bistro in Oldsmar is taking donations of Dawn dish soap at 3705 Tampa Road in Oldsmar (Forest Lakes Plaza) Call (813) 814-0907. The St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, 12600 Roosevelt Blvd, is also a drop-off point. Call (727) 572 7800. We'll keep you posted here as more drop-off locations are announced.
Florida Audubon has set up a clearinghouse for volunteers and donations. It also includes some political action and petitions focusing on policy.
The Sarasota-based Save Our Seabirds organization, which says it has had an 85 percent rescue rate for oil-slicked seabirds, is taking donations and is packing to leave for the Florida panhandle. There is a Paypal account for donations on their website, and they are looking for supplies such as extension cords, heating pads, tools, and Dawn dishwashing liquid. Their website has a long wish list to check.
Meanwhile the Clearwater Marine Aquarium stands ready to help in the efforts. "We have the ability to take in numerous sea turtles if need be," said Danielle O'Neil, the manager of the aquarium's sea turtle program. "We have a brand new sea turtle rehabilitation area in our backyard." Sea turtles, birds and manatees are the most in danger, she said, because they spend more time on the surface than dolphins and whales. The aquarium has created an emergency fund to care for animals injured by the oil spill.
The grass roots group Hands Across the Sand, which had staged protests earlier this year to oppose expanded oil drilling off Florida's coast, has now turned its efforts toward the oil spill and cleanup. A meeting Wednesday (May 5) at 6:30 p.m. at Gulfport's beachfront pavilion aims to use the organization to lobby for more booms for Florida's coast or raise the money locally if needed.
To prepare for a large number of volunteer requests, VolunteerFlorida.org will help organize local volunteers who aren't already part of an organized group like Audubon or Sierra Club. No activities have been identified yet, but if it looks like an oil slick will hit the Tampa Bay area, training will be needed for anyone coming into contact with contaminated materials, including oil. A four-hour training class can be set up on short notice. As the organizers say, training people is easy; getting them to actually work is not so.
-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne
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[Phots: Glenn Corbett, of Pensacola, gets help from his granddaughter Emma Wilmoth, 5, as they joined hundreds of volunteers in this coastal city on Sunday to pick up trash along Escambia County beaches. Officials organized a massive beach cleanup in anticipation of an oil slick. St. Petersburg Times -- Scott Keeler]