Monday, June 14, 2010

Build a Cause

I can’t watch the TV footage of brown pelicans coated with black oil without crying. And, yet, the struggles and casualties of the fish and fowl and other marine life on the Gulf Coast are but a bit, albeit painful, part in a much bigger tragedy.

I live in Baton Rouge, La., miles from the BP oil spill that occurred just about two months ago -- but close enough to sometimes smell the oil and to hear stories firsthand about job losses, business closures and the long-term impact on Louisiana’s marshes.

There are plenty who compare the spill event to Katrina. I wasn’t here when the hurricane devastated New Orleans and its surrounds. But I was here when the oil rig exploded, and it is an utter mess -- with no end in sight.

Kudos to the retailers that have stepped up to the plate to help with the fight for the survival of our coast. St. Louis-based Build-A-Bear announced just last week that it is raising funds, in conjunction with the Audubon Nature Institute to rescue marine mammals and sea turtles, which are dying by the hundreds. There are stories of hair salons collecting hair and fur and Hooters girls donating their panty hose for the cause (the hair and fur are stuffed into panty hose and used to absorb oil).

There have been other big donations. For example, Target Corp. donated $50,000 toward oil cleanup efforts, and Borders Group on June 10 pledged to donate 10% of this past weekend’s transactions, up to $50,000, to the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana.

And there have been local efforts, such as the CVS drug stores in Fairhope and Daphne, Ala., which set themselves up as oil spill relief donation drop sites and provided some matching funds.

I’m certain there are many more retail organizations that have donated their time and money toward oil-spill cleanup and relief in Louisiana and the other coastal states. Share your donation stories here.

-- Katherine Field

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