While the rest of us sit on our fists and commiserate about the devastating oil spill in the Gulf, a six year old from North Carolina is actually doing something about it. This story warmed my heart and gave me hope for the future with kids like this coming along in the world.
Maybe the great minds of the US “guvment” and petroleum executives should take heed.
Skylar Fielder-Jones was determined do something to help the birds, mammals and marine life endangered by the massive oil spill.
Since British Petroleum’s deepwater horizon rig exploded April 20, more than 7 million gallons of crude oil have spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.
As oil from the blown-out well continues to reach the shorelines and fragile marsh ecosystems along the Gulf Coast, the rough-and-tumble 6-year-old has been collecting bottles of blue Dawn liquid dish detergent, paper towels, toothbrushes and rubber gloves to help organizations in their efforts save the area’s wildlife. How simple, how compassionate.
“My goal is to work hard and not to be scared to help the animals – that’s my big giant goal,” Skylar said. “There’s a lot of animals in the ocean that’s gonna get hurt, and some of them could pass away because all that oil on them can make them sick and die.”
So far, Skylar has collected more than 80 bottles of soap, 30 rolls of paper towels, too many toothbrushes to count and at least $300 in donations, which was spent to buy more supplies for the cause on Thursday.
On Tuesday, Skylar and her parents will be taking the collected supplies to RiverLink, a company in Asheville, N.C. that will transport them to the Gulf. The company works in western North Carolina to improve the French Broad River watershed, but representatives felt the call to help with the cleanup effort and have been collecting supplies to transport to the Gulf since the spill began.
Kimberly Fielder-Jones, the self-proclaimed “proud mama,” is touched by her daughter’s vision.
“I know we’re here, and we see it on television, but I think we don’t have any clue how bad it is,” she said. “This is affecting these people’s livelihoods.”
Skylar felt the call to action while she was watching news reports about the spill on television. She remembers images of fish swimming in the oil. She later saw a commercial for Dawn liquid dish detergent depicting volunteers cleaning a baby penguin with the soap.
Skylar put the two scenes together and ran to her mother in the kitchen with her big idea.
“I want to save all the ducks and turtles in the oil with the blue dish soap!” she told her mother excitedly.
After calming Skylar down, Fielder-Jones was able to understand what her daughter meant.
The next day, Skylar took her idea to her first-grade class. Under the instruction of her teacher, Sarah Ryan, her class began designing a flier to send home to parents, urging them to contribute.
‘Want the Oil Gone’
Ryan was happy to incorporate Skylar’s project into classroom learning. She and her students have held open discussions about the spill and its impact on the Gulf Coast region.
“Now the kids are more aware,” Ryan said. “It’s taking them outside their little space and it’s broadening their perspective on the world.”
Since she began her campaign three weeks ago, Skylar will admit that she’s been pretty busy.
“I’ve been to big places and little places,” she said, referring to where she went to ask for supplies and donations.
“I just want the oil to be gone,” Skylar said. “Everything is going to be good when they wash the animals.”
While Skylar set off collecting supplies, her mother got to work looking for an organization that would accept them.
“I needed to see if there was a need,” she said. “I didn’t want to have 900 bottles of Dawn sitting in my living room!”
Her mother first called British Petroleum to see if the company was accepting any supplies for cleanup efforts. On the other end of the line, she encountered an abrasive company representative.
“They told me, ‘We’re handling it. We don’t need any outside help from you,'” she said. (What arrogance.)
However, the conversation didn’t deter Fielder-Jones. After doing some research online, she found several organizations looking for aid.
“Of course there were places taking donations left and right,” she said.
She learned of RiverLink’s collection efforts while conducting her research.
Anyone wanting more information about how to contribute to Skylar’s cause can contact Kimberly Fielder-Jones by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.