The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Change for Australia: every penny counts

3 min read

A kangaroo running by a burning house in Conjola, New South Wales (Matthew Abbott | New York Times)


Staff Writer

The Australian wildfires have scorched at least 12 million acres, according to a recent article from Time magazine, and have killed over one billion animals. Celebrities like Chris Hemsworth and Elton John each donating at least a million dollars has aided in the relief efforts, but the fires still burn and the communities are still heavily affected. While most students are not able to donate large sums, more students should be chipping it and donating what they can to aid in these crises.

Extra cash is difficult to come by as a college student, so it is tempting to spend it on new tech or concert tickets, yourself or people you know. However, in the face of natural disasters as crippling and widespread as the Australian wildfires, financial priorities should spread beyond those you know to benefit those that you may never meet.

This mentality is what drove me to donate what little I could to the relief efforts, knowing full well that I may never get to see the animals my donation saved or meet the people that came to their rescue.

University of Sydney ecologist Chris Dickman told the Huffington Post that original estimates of animals killed by the wildfires starting in the mere hundred millions were too conservative, and are now reaching over one billion. These numbers are overwhelming. However, there are a number of reputable Australian charities that are already doing amazing work and need help, such as Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Services (WIRES), the World Wildlife Fund, and Zoo Victoria.

Each foundation aids in its own unique way. For example, WIRES volunteers have been among those walking directly into the fires to retrieve the animals and transport them to safety. The World Wildlife Fund works on animal rescues, but have also focused on future conservation efforts and the efforts to re-home displaced animals after the wildfires have ceased. Zoo Victoria’s workers focus on medical aid to the affected animals, with donations going towards “emergency veterinary assistance and scientific intervention,” according to their website.

Donations to these organizations makes a substantial impact, no matter the size of the donation. They are also non-taxable, for those who are worried about how a donation may affect their finances.

The donation I made to WIRES was given with sympathy for the plights of those affected by the fires, but also with the knowledge that if Virginia went up in flames, it would mean everything to me if someone would do the same.

America was aided by an international community during the California wildfires. The official Twitter account of the Fire Reserve of New South Wales (FRNSW), in an August 2018 tweet, documented the agency’s deployment of “thirteen FRNSW firefighters and fire specialists,” with the FRNSW contingent being “among the 100 personel from across Australia deployed to the region.”

We owe it to Australia to pay it forward and return the love and support we were given. The most feasible way for a college student to show support is with monetary donations to the Australian relief efforts that already have boots on the ground. Furthermore, we owe it to ourselves to practice philanthropy and get in the habit of selflessness.

It is with these thoughts in mind that I urge you to donate whatever you can to aid in the Australian wildfire relief efforts, with every penny counting, and every helping hand making the work that much faster and that much more effective. Every penny given helps toward one more animal saved, one more volunteer able to get medical supplies to those that need them, and one more act of charity that proves the unity of humanity when in crisis.

When tragedy strikes, it is crucial for anyone with financial means to donate to these charities, and those without to spread the word and encourage others to donate and support.

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