One of the more devastating events in recent history has been the Australian bushfires. Owen Colley, a kindergartner from Hingham, Massachusetts, was particularly struck by the disaster, especially its effect on local wildlife. Not content to merely sit by and do nothing, the six-year-old created a GoFundMe fundraiser with the intention of donating all the proceeds to Wildlife Rescue South Coast Incorporated.
The idea started after Colley asked his mother if the Australian fires were hurting animals. She responded that many animals were being affected, which prompted Colley to take action. Owen drew a picture of a koala, dingo, and a kangaroo in the rain to represent his hope that help would come to the embattled country soon. “It was really the first time Owen had made a wish for something other than LEGO or something other than himself,” Colley’s mother said. “We asked him if he wanted to help and together we came up with this. We could make some clay koalas and give them in response to donations from friends and family.” Owen started making the koalas, asking for a $50 donation from anyone wanting one for themselves. Using Venmo, Colley raised $1,000 before moving over to GoFundMe. There Colley set the goal of reaching $5,000. As of the end of January, the fundraiser has raised more than $280,000. The effort is so successful that they’ve had to release a statement saying that they can no longer continue making clay koalas—but that hasn’t stopped donations from coming in.
“Anyone can make a difference and when we come together, we can make an even bigger difference,” says Colley’s mother. “I just love the idea that maybe other kids can take this to their communities and sell little clay koalas locally and raise money for this great cause.”
The donations will go to Wildlife Rescue South Coast Inc to help build aviaries, boxes, and enclosures for displaced animals. The organization is also helping to set up feeding stations on their properties so that animals have somewhere to go.