The daily headlines about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico continue to wrench at my heart and twist my stomach. One of the latest Associated Press headlines I read stated “Oil spill swells to 4M gallons.”

Headlines like that have led me to ask myself, “What can I do?”

I found my answer just a few days ago in the form of an email from a friend who volunteers at the Center for Birds of Prey, located in a small Charleston, SC town called Awendaw. The non-profit organization is made up of dozens of trained and volunteer staff members who treat nearly 400 injured birds of prey a year and then return them to the wild.

Mary Pringle’s email asked folks to “please pick up a large blue bottle of plain Dawn dish detergent, the plain blue kind (not antibacterial or any other type or brand), so that we can start stockpiling this in case we need it.”

The center’s executive director, Jim Elliott, recently told a reporter for Charleston’s Post and Courier newspaper that the U.S. Coast Guard had contacted him with a message for the center to be on stand by. The Birds of Prey Center may soon be hand-washing and caring for oil-covered birds. And according to Mary, “the bird cleaning process takes days and is physically demanding with hours of backbreaking work.”

If a two-dollar bottle of Dawn dish soap can help them with this massive mission, I am thrilled to make a contribution.  I might even donate a box full of the blue stuff.

Are you interested in helping? If you live in the Charleston area like I do, I encourage you visit the Center for Birds of Prey on Seewee Road, not only to drop off your bottle of Dawn, but to also see for yourself the amazing work that is done there on a daily basis. For those of you who live afar, I have no doubt that if you mailed a bottle of soap, or better yet, a monetary donation, your charitable contribution would be gratefully appreciated by the staff and volunteers.

News of the oil spill won’t be disappearing from the headlines anytime soon. It’s an environmental disaster of epic proportions. While its true impact on the ocean life, wetlands and our lives won’t be known for some time, I take some comfort in knowing that every drop of Dawn will help save the lives of some of our feathered friends desperately in need of our help.

You can learn more about the Center for Birds of Prey by visiting their website or by reading my novel Skyward.

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All the best,
Mary Alice