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Mommy bloggers vs. the Gulf oil spill

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Mitch Traphagen photo
Cooper Munroe, left, and Tampa bay area “mommy bloggers” and their children gather for a “Better Than a Picnic-Picnic” sponsored by Hebrew National and organized by Munroe, founder of TheMotherhood.com to raise funds and awareness for Save Our Seabirds and the National Wildlife Federation.

By Mitch Traphagen

   RUSKIN — The Gulf oil spill is beyond enormous in magnitude. Growing larger by the minute, the public expects something to be done but feels as though it is beyond the capabilities of any one person. After all, what can one person do to have an impact on something of unimaginable proportions?
Meet Cooper Munroe. She is the self-described head mother of TheMotherhood.com, a blog and information website for mothers. Munroe teamed up with Hebrew National, the company known for hot dogs, and organized local bloggers in the Tampa Bay area to make a difference in the still-unfolding crisis.
   Munroe refers to them as “mommy bloggers,” mothers who are reaching out and trying to make a difference in their communities. For the Tampa Bay event, a picnic held at E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin on Saturday, she teamed up with Caroline Jorgensen (aka Morningside Mom), Tracey Henry (aka Suburban Diva), Janet Dean (aka Green Mom Review) and Connie Roberts (aka Brain Foggles) to raise awareness and resources for Save Our Seabirds, Inc. and the National Wildlife Federation. Each of the women, also known by the name of their blogs, have a commitment to their families and to their communities. With the crisis in the Gulf, they are seeing a threat to both.
   For Hebrew National, it was an opportunity to make a difference at a local level. The company started as a mom and pop operation and is today owned by ConAgra Foods, the largest food producer in the world with products found in an estimated 96 percent of American homes. Local impact remains a focus for the company through community service projects such as this one, known as the “Better Than a Picnic-Picnic.”
   “Cooper [Munroe] is one of the most influential women in America right now,” said Wendy Weiss of Hebrew National. “We’re happy to be a part of this.”
In an age where it is hard to find a way to make an impact in a big world with complex problems, Munroe and the mommy bloggers are finding a way to do it.
   “Let’s face it, it’s not a spill, it’s a disaster,” Munroe said while standing in the shade of a picnic shelter on a crystal clear, but scorching hot day. “Being able to focus on the communit

Mitch Traphagen photo
Learning to make a difference at a young age: Children at the Better Than a Picnic-Picnic made bird feeders from pine cones using Crisco to allow the bird seed to stick. Afterwards, they made thank you cards for people volunteering to contain the oil in the Gulf.
y and the commitment people have to their community, it’s touching. It shows how deeply people feel about things.”
   The event was designed to raise awareness; and also to collect needed supplies for Save Our Seabirds, a local non-profit organization, and the National Wildlife Federation. The wish list from Save Our Seabirds is long and includes everything from bleach and laundry detergent to buckets, towels and Dawn dish detergent.
   Save Our Seabirds, based in Sarasota, is headed by Lee Fox. In 1991, Fox created the Tampa Bay area’s first Oiled Wildlife Preparedness Program and Training Manual. At the request of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, she also created the area’s first mobile oiled wildlife response unit. Her organization has been called into action in the past, often to rescue injured birds, but has experience with past oil spills in Tampa Bay. The current Gulf crisis, however, is far larger than even Fox could have imagined.
   Under the shelter, children made natural bird feeders from pine cones, using Crisco to allow the bird seed to stick in place. The hot dogs were cooking nearby and a National Hebrew cow in an inflatable ring stood ready for the children to ride. Music blared from the speakers and everyone waited for Elmo, the Sesame Street character, to arrive. Afterwards, they made thank you cards to be sent to some of the volunteers working in the Gulf to contain the oil.
   “We are having some fun with this at the same time,” said blogger Caroline Jorgensen. “We’ve gotten a lot of response, it has been encouraging.”
   The event revealed the power of individuals working together. Cooper Munroe contacted a national company and a handful of local mothers to come together to make a difference in the community. They may be called “mommy bloggers” but that belies the power they have, the power everyone has, to affect change. To do something that has an impact, regardless of size, on a crisis of unimaginable proportions.
   On a hot Saturday in Ruskin, a small group of mothers did just that. They made a difference.
To donate to Save Our Seabirds, Inc., a 503(c)(3) nonprofit organization, visit www.saveourseabirds.org, call 941-388-3010, or write to Save Our Seabirds, 1708 Ken Thompson Pkwy, Sarasota, FL, 34236. The website contains a complete list of needed items.
To donate to the National Wildlife Federation, visit www.nwf.org or call 800-822-9919.

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