Many Hands Make Light Work

By Alex Haro

Although the hole in the bottom of the Gulf has been plugged, it's too early to say whether or not it will be successful. BP's final solution is still the relief wells, the closest of which is only about 150 feet away from target depth. But even after the ruptured well that spewed oil into the Gulf for 86 days is plugged for good, this devastating and heartbreaking story cannot slip off everyone's radar. It will take years of cleanup in the Gulf before it returns to normal.

Complaints from volunteers not being fully utilized have filtered their way to the public ears. We thought it would pertinent to construct a list of websites where you can volunteer your time or donate your cash.

Not the Answer - A blog dedicated to the oil spill–Not the Answer is a regularly updated site with information dealing with the BP disaster. Included are tips on what you can do, links to other similar sites, and a pre-written letter to the president for you to add your John Hancock to stop drilling in the gulf.

Restore the GulfRestore the Gulf is the newest federal portal for the Deepwater BP oil spill response and recovery. The site gives the public information on the response, current operations, updates, how to file a claim, and links to federal, state, and local partners.

Volunteer USA Foundation – Among other things like family literacy and mentoring, the Volunteer USA Foundation is deeply involved with the Gulf of Mexico. As the winner of the 2009 Great Nonprofits Youth Thrive Award, you can rest assure your money is going some place where it count's.

Deepwater Horizon Response – The "Official site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command." This site is the cyberspace equivalent of a suggestion box. So far, they've received over 20,000 ideas (none of which have been put into action). The volunteer tab lists where you can go to help in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, and Alabama.

Greenpeace – Just because you give money or volunteer for Greenpeace doesn't automatically mean you have to chain yourself to a tree or ram a whaling ship. Although they have had their share of media scrutiny, Greenpeace has always stood up for what they believe in, and they are always looking for more help. They also have a list of "10 Simple Ways to Use Less Oil" that everyone should read, whether you're planning on volunteering or not.

LA Gulf Response – If you're in Louisiana, LA Gulf Response is where to go to volunteer. Mostly dedicated to cleanup in the wetlands, LA Gulf Response lists where and when you can volunteer, what each of the projects will try and accomplish, and has an easy-to-use Donate button.

Greater Good - Unlike a lot of so-called "donations," Greater Good delivers 100 percent of your money to the cause. Greater Good is a non-profit organization devoted to the "health and well-being of people, animals, and the planet". In 2009, Greater Good raised and donated over 3 million dollars.

Secure Defenders - Secure Defenders is dedicated to saving and protecting our wildlife. Probably one of the most depressing websites ever, Secure Defenders is basically an obituary for all the animals we've killed. It also has a letter to the president asking him to stop offshore drilling, and a meter that shows how many have been sent. Currently over 60,000 have been sent.

IBRRC – The International Bird Rescue Research Centre are basically the ones with the dirtiest hands in the cleanup. With 473 birds already released and extensive lists showing exactly how many animals they have in their care (2802 birds and 643 sea turtles), the IBRRC is working harder than most to clean up someone else's mess. They aren't coordinating volunteers right now, but you can still donate.

Matter of Trust – Had a hair cut recently? Hope you didn't leave the barber shop without collecting your scraps. Matter of Trust is an agency that is collecting hair, fur, fleece, nylon, and feathers for use in the Gulf. This site has detailed instructions on how to send your shag where it will be used for something other than clogging drains.

Audubon – Audubon is concerned mostly with the birds affected by the Gulf Spill. You can register to volunteer, donate, and sign up to receive updates. Audubon is also supporting one of most original ideas (apart from the hair donation) for fund raising, an 11 year old girl that draws birds and auctions them off, donating all the profits to Audubon.

Volunteer Florida – If you live in Florida and feel like rolling your sleeves up, Volunteer Florida is a great site to visit for information on where you can help out. So far, volunteers through have logged a total of 22,173 hours.

Causes – has donated $95,058 to the National Wildlife Federation. With 918,733 members, that works out to about .103 of a cent donated by each member. Not the greatest track record. Join the group, don't have a coffee this morning and donate a buck.