PENSACOLA, Fla. (6/7/10 CUNA)–A Florida credit union that says it can’t sit idly by and wait for others to solve the oil spill crisis has committed $50,000 for a matching donation fund to assist the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida in its recovery efforts from the spill.
“We wanted to create an opportunity for the community to double the amount they give to the Wildlife Sanctuary,” said Pensacola-based Gulf Winds FCU President/CEO Chris Rutledge. “When they give through our website, we will match the gift dollar-for-dollar, up to a total of $50,000.”
The aim is to take the $50,000 pledged and turn it into a $100,000 donation “with help from the Gulf Coast residents,” Rutledge said. Rutledge and several Gulf Winds staffers toured the Wildlife Sanctuary recently. “We were very impressed with the facility and the work they are doing,” said Rutledge. “The Wildlife Sanctuary has been a part of this community for over 28 years and will be here long after the BP (British Petroleum] cleanup operation has left the area.
“We know that the Wildlife Sanctuary will be assisting and doing all they can do to protect, restore and rehabilitate wildlife that will be affected by this disaster,” said Rutledge. “Our wildlife cannot wait while lawsuits are settled. They will need our help now and long term.”
Although reports indicate that BP has committed to covering the costs associated with the oil spill incident, including the wildlife cleanup, the Wildlife Sanctuary is preparing for a potentially overwhelming amount of work. Dorothy Kaufmann, Wildlife Sanctuary director, said her staff and volunteers are working closely with many collaborating organizations in the recovery efforts.
It already has received injured birds from Tri-State Rescue and Research, an organization contracted by BP to rehabilitate wildlife in this incident. “The birds and other animals can’t be released to the wild immediately,” says Kaufmann. “The oil is still out there. We will be ready to nurse the animals back to health and if needed, hold them until it is safe to release them.”
The sanctuary is a non-profit organization that has served Northwest Florida since 1982. It does not charge for its services and relies on contributions to stay open. The money is used to build facilities, and for grounds upkeep, medical supplies and food. During a normal year, the sanctuary takes in 3,000-4,000 injured or sick animals. Staff expect a big increase this year.
Donations can be made by clicking here. The credit union said 100% of the donation goes directly to the local sanctuary.