Oil Spill Fundraiser Fills A Bus

07/06/10 Andrea Lypka
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The oil spill is bringing the community in Madeira Beach together. On Saturday afternoon a yellow school bus full of paper towels, water, birdcages and dishwashing liquid was ready to depart to the Panhandle to help with the oil spill cleanup. And community members keep dropping off more donations at a benefit concert. All of this happens because organizer Jerry Hawk decided to start a month-long fundraiser instead of yelling at the television screen.

“ I thought it is a good idea for our community. Often times, birds are overlooked and wildlife are overlooked. But really this (wildlife) makes our community, isn’t it? We thought we will try to get ahead of the ballgame and bit a bit proactive instead of sitting back and wait for it to happen,” he said.

Hawk knows how important clean waterways are. He grew up on the beach and he lives with his family here. One of the volunteers is speaker and author Garry King who owns the school bus. He says he wants to help with the cleanup but he also has another reason.

“That bus is all about addressing problems in the public schools. That’s why it has the messages that has on the side of it: real winners are honest and your character is our future. The idea is to get this message out on all the school buses in the US and there are 480 thousand of them,” he said.

Hawk says this fundraiser builds character and fosters positive behavior because they get community support. “People just pull off, dump stuff and leave. We are offering to give them food and drink if they donate. They just feel helpless. And when society feels helpless it’s bad. So if they feel better by giving some water, giving something, it’s great. That’s what volunteerism is about, I think,” he said.

Organizers say they want to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. And they also want to inspire others to donate even if the oil spill is not in their backyard yet. For a month, customers at the Latitudes restaurant have seen a bottle of dishwashing liquid on their table and Hawk says they have the choice to donate it to the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary.

“So this little girl comes up to one of the servers with a $20 bill and says I want to buy a bottle of Down. So the server goes, good I’ll be back with the change. She goes, you don’t understand, I want to use all of my allowance to buy all the Down I can… This kid donated the whole $20 to buy Down for the environment. And if we can catch them at that age when they are young, then they are going to be responsible when they get older,” he said.

To donate more items contact the Latitudes Restaurant in Madeira Beach.

Photo Gallery About the Fundraiser at the Latitudes Restaurant in Madeira Beach

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