Organiser, Jay Simon and his merry band of performing friends, #nailedit when they put on the Aussi Aid fundraiser in mid January. It was a phenomenal result for the impromptu concert; put together with a lot of community elbow grease and generosity.
$15,482 came in online at givealittle which was divided down the middle; half for the Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter and the other half given in conjunction with the Central App to NSW Rural Fire Service, Queensland Fire and Rescue and Victoria's Country Fire Authority.
Of the $31,119 cash that was donated, the funds have been split with half going to the NSW Volunteer Rural Fire Service Association, and the other half to Vets for Compassion.
The money for the Volunteer RFSA will go directly to volunteers, rather than buying a new fire engine or equipment. “This was important to me,” said Simon. “I wanted it to go directly to them, and this went straight to literally getting them shirts, food, helping with bereavement, relief and welfare of the firefighters.”
When Vets for Compassion heard Wānaka was throwing a fundraiser, they contacted Simon directly and put their hand up for the funds, saying they were desperate for funds to rescue the wildlife which was being decimated by the fires. Images of koalas with burnt hands and feet have seared onto the memory of all observers, so those heroes at the frontline rescuing animals deserve every cent they get according to Simon.
“I’ve had letters from Vets for Compassion and the NSW RFSA and they’ve both thanked the Wānaka community,” he said.
“I’m really proud to say we were the first town in NZ to cover it which is why we had One News down here, and we spurred other towns into doing something.
“People have been amazingly generous. Restaurants and bars were giving us donations. I would like to thank Matt Doyle and MAC and the help from the MAC students and Roger North giving us Kai. Council was really helpful. BNZ waived the transfer fees at our end which was lovely.”
Whilst the imagery from the fires was on the news every night, the emotional trigger to dig into your wallet was achieved with Daisy Thor-Poet's film of the event which received over 12,000 views on Facebook and helped narrate a compelling plea for funds — which worked like magic.
Givealittle $15k split between Mallacoota Wildlife Shelter, and half to Volunteer Rural Fire Service
$15k for rural firefighters welfare. I didn’t want money going on a fire engine or equipment I wanted it to go directly to them, and this went straight to literally getting them shirts, food, helping with bereavement, relief and welfare of the firefighters.
Other half $15 went to Vets for Compassion. When we announced the fundraiser they contacted us and said ‘we’re desperate for money.’ I looked at their website I realised I had found who I wanted to give it to.
The fit the bill, because they are literally saving koalas from trees. I’ve had letters from Vets for compassion and the rural firefighters and they’ve both thanked the Wānaka community.
Even though it’s all wrapped up, it’s still burning in Australia and the fire season is only just beginning.