How Teens Can Help With the Gulf Oil Spill Relief Effort

Last week brought great optimism, as we learned that the latest well cap is working and that the oil flow in the Gulf of Mexico has finally stopped gushing, at least for the time being. While the government and BP are busy with oil-relief efforts, there is much that you can do as well to help with the environmental recovery of this horrific oil spill disaster.

An obvious way to help cleanup efforts is simply by raising money—either through an organization, school club or your own initiative. Many young teens have already helped provide funds necessary for relieving the oil-drenched seas. Olivia Bouler, a talented eleven-year-old, for example, paints and sells her own watercolor paintings; she has raised over $100,000 so far. Meanwhile 13-year-old Maria Toth and her 16-year-old sister Caitlyn Toth from Ohio have started a soap drive in order to wash seabirds caught in the sticky oil. By starting a campaign called "Help Us Help the Gulf Wildlife," they are collecting Dawn Dish Soato send tothe Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shore, FL. They aim to collect 5,000 bottles by July 31. Or you can donate directly to organizations by visiting National Wildlife Foundation's website or texting "WILDLIFE" to 20222 to donate $10, to help the NWF with immediate, on-the-ground efforts to rescue and rehabilitate affected wildlife. Another option is to donate a tax-deductible gift to Oxfam America's "Gulf Coast Oil Spill Relief Fund," which will go toward providing relief for vulnerable communities threatened by the oil spill.

Besides donating money, you can also offer your time this summer and volunteer. Check out organizations and websites including Deepwater Horizon Response, Matter of Trust (which is collecting hair, fur and fleece clippings to soak oil), the Audubon Action Center, Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary or Save Our Seabirds, Inc. for various volunteer opportunities.

Others might take a more vocal route. Starting a protest against widespread oil drilling, the primary cause of oil spills, may be one way to prevent this catastrophic event from ever happening again. One organization that is taking this step is Oceana. You can sign a petition on their website to ban offshore drilling—so far, they've already received 129,489 signatures. By letting your voice spread awareness throughout the country—either by protesting or by simply holding a garage sale and donating the funds to spill relief—we could all ensure a healthier and happier environment.

Photos from Boston.com's The Big Picture