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How to donate, support firefighters and wildlife

Countless stories of devastation are emerging around Australia as the country burns.

The scale of the crisis is hard to comprehend. The wildfires have so far burned more than 12 million acres, they have killed at least 24 people, and nearly 2000 homes have been destroyed.

In New South Wales alone, the fires have killed nearly 500 million birds, reptiles and mammals.

Here’s what you can do to help those affected by the devastation:

HELP THE FIREFIGHTERS

New South Wales

Donations to the NSW Rural Fire Service directly benefit the volunteer firefighters on the frontline. To help, you can contact your local brigade directly or donate here.

You can also donate to the young families of Geoffrey Keaton and Andrew O’Dwyer, who were killed during the Green Wattle Creek fire, and Samuel McPaul, who was killed at the Green Valley fireground, here.

Victoria

For those interested in supporting the efforts of Victorian firefighters, you can donate to the state’s Country Fire Association here.

National

Comedian Celeste Barber set up a Facebook fundraiser on Friday, January 3 and it has so far raised a staggering $39 million. She was initially raising funds for The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Services and Brigades Donations Fund but, after the unprecedented number of donations, she has said the funds would be distributed to all states.

She said the money raised would also be spread to Victoria and South Australia, the Red Cross and families of those killed in the fires, to be decided in consultation with NSW RFS.

HELP THE WILDLIFE

Sydney University have estimated more than 480 million animals have died in Australia since September, as a result of the bushfires.

WIRES

To help the NSW wildlife victims, you can donate to the NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) here.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

More than 2000 koalas are feared to have perished in NSW since September.

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital have raised more than $2 million for the wildlife affected in that area, with the initial aim of using the money to distribute automatic drinking stations in the burnt areas to help in koala and wildlife survival.

The organisation are now sharing the funds with other wildlife organisations in the fire affected regions across NSW. You can donate here.

WWF

The World Wildlife Fund have set up a “Help Save Koalas” fund.

They explain exactly where your money could go in helping to prevent koalas from becoming extinct:

• $50 “could help plant the first 10,000 urgently needed trees in critical koala habitat.”

• $75 “could help provide emergency care and medicine for injured koalas affected by bushfires.”

• $100 “could help protect existing forest and woodland, and the wildlife that live there.”

• $150 “could help pressure governments to strengthen laws that prevent excessive tree-clearing, before it’s too late.”

You can donate here.

RSPCA

The RSPCA have launched appeals in Victoria, NSW and South Australia to assist in their rescue and treatment of the animals most affected during the fires, but also once they clear.

HELP THOSE AFFECTED

The Salvation Army

The Salvos have launched a disaster appeal to support the communities affected by the devastating bushfires.

“Our teams are providing meals to evacuees and frontline responders, and will continue to provide whatever support is needed as the situation develops,” said Strategic Emergency and Disaster Management general manager, Major Topher Holland.

To donate to the disaster appeal, you can call 13 SALVOS (13 72 58), donate at any Woolworths checkout, or donate online here.

Australian Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross have launched a joint disaster appeal with the ABC to support the communities affected by fires, and have raised more than $2 million already.

While they are heartened by donations of food, clothes and people offering to open up their homes, Red Cross say they’re not in a position to take and distribute these items.

“Our experience with emergencies shows that donations of money, where possible, help affected communities recover soon,” the charity said.

“Our specialist emergency volunteers are providing psychological first aid, working at evacuation centres and helping people to get in touch with their loved ones.”

You can donate here.

Vinnies

The St Vincent De Paul Society is also running a bushfire appeal, to help those affected rebuild their lives with food, clothing, furniture, other essentials, and funds to pay bills.

They explain exactly where your money could go:

• $50 “can provide food for a family who have been evacuated from their home.”

• $150 “can help with bills and unexpected expenses for a household recovering from a bushfire.”

• $300 “can provide clothing for a family who’ve had to leave their belongings behind.”

• $1,100 “can help those whose homes have been damaged or destroyed to set up again with bedding, furniture and appliances.

You can donate at any Vinnies store or head here.

Givit

Charities like Givit specialise in goods, where the exact items people need are listed via charities and the public can match that or register the items they have, in case someone has use for them.

Givit is currently running two specific campaigns supporting NSW and Queensland bushfire victims.

Foodbank

Foodbank is delivering emergency food relief and water to East Gippsland, helping firefighters and local communities caught up in the bushfires.

It is fundraising to send about 5,000 food relief hampers in the coming days.

You can donate here.

Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund

The Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund was established in 1978, and is operated by local volunteers for Gippsland communities affected by natural disaster events.

Donations can be made via Paypal at gerf.org.au, at any branch of the NAB across Australia, or in person at Alan Wilson Insurance Brokers at 40 Argyle St, Traralgon.

Bendigo Bank Bushfire Disaster Appeal

Bendigo Bank have partnered with The Salvation Army to establish an appeal that will raise funds for fire affected communities including East Gippsland, Hume, southeast New South Wales and Adelaide Hills.

You can make a donation here.

GoFundMe

GoFundMe pages have been set up for the Victorian communities of Cudgewa and Mallacoota.

Airbnb

Airbnb have set up pages to share free accommodation for people who are evacuating the fire zones. Find emergency housing or list your property via the NSW or Victoria page.

Free accommodation will be available until 16 January 2020.

Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) have set up a Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund to support communities affected by the ongoing bushfire crisis.

The fund supports rural and regional communities to access much-needed funding for medium-to-long-term disaster recovery and resilience projects.

You can donate to the fund here.

McDonald’s

McDonald’s Australia have made several commitments to support the bushfire appeal. These include:

• Committing $500,000 to the Australian Red Cross Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund, and matching employee donations.

• Implementing in-restaurant donations options via their kiosks, MyMaccas App and donation buckets, to enable customers to support their state’s volunteer fire services.

• Restaurants in impacted areas have so far provided nearly 20,000 free meals and have continued to distribute thousands of bottles of water to firefighters and members of the community.

HELP LOCAL BUSINESS

Spend With Them

Athlete, motivational speaker and burns victim Turia Pitt has taken to social media to urge her followers about the importance of helping local businesses that may have been affected by the bushfire crisis.

“Once these fires are finally ‘over’, it won’t be over for many of the local businesses in fire-ravaged towns,” she wrote.

“A lot of these places (like my home in Mollymook, and Mallacoota, Kangaroo Island, Eden etc) rely on the tourist dollar for their very survival.

“So this is what I’m doing. I’ve created @spendwiththem, a place to feature businesses in fire-affected towns. So, if you want to buy something (now, or in the future), check out @spendwiththem and buy something from one of these places.”

The page has already garnered over 40,000 followers. You can find it here.

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