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Rural Fire Service (RFS) volunteers and NSW Fire and Rescue officers fight a bushfire encroaching on properties near Termeil, Australia, December, 3, 2019. Picture taken December 3, 2019. Photo by AAP Image/Dean Lewins/via Reuters

How to help the victims of Australia’s wildfires

Thousands of Australians are in need of assistance as massive wildfires continue to tear across the continent.

Raging fires have killed at least 27 people, destroyed 2,000 homes and killed or displaced up to 480 million animals since September 2019. The blazes are estimated to have burned an area roughly the size of South Carolina.

The Australian government has pledged it would do “whatever it takes” to fund relief efforts. Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he is dedicating an additional $1.4 billion to rebuild infrastructure and buildings that have been destroyed.

Concern and despair over the fires even captured the spotlight at the Golden Globes on Sunday night in Los Angeles, when Australian actor Russell Crowe, one of the night’s winners, was notably absent. While he stayed at home preparing for more fiery conditions, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon read a statement on his behalf, connecting “the tragedy unfolding in Australia” to climate change.

As the wildfires show no signs of abating, nonprofit groups emphasize there is an urgent need to aid those affected by the ongoing disaster.

Here are a few ways you can help.

Support local Australian firefighting services

Donate money to firefighters who are on the front lines of this disaster. An overwhelming number of Australia’s thousands of firefighters are unpaid volunteers, and some have been working shifts of 12 hours or longer to battle the flames. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that no fire chiefs have raised the issue of compensation with him. But you can donate to Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria and the NSW Rural Fire Service in New South Wales. You can also give to local fire fighting brigades through the NSW Rural Fire Service’s link. 

Or support firefighters by bidding for books on Twitter

Authors on Twitter are auctioning off books, writing services and other special opportunities, using #AuthorsForFireys. Twitter users can reply to individual authors’ tweets with their bids. The highest bidder for each post will donate directly to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) and will need to provide proof of donation before obtaining the author’s item or service.

The auction event began Monday, Jan. 6 and will end on Saturday, Jan. 11.

Help give child evacuees a safe space to be kids again

Save the Children is collecting donations to build “child friendly spaces,” where kids can play together and talk about their experiences in a supportive environment. Having these spaces also allows parents to focus on recovering and rebuilding what they’ve lost, from belongings to homes.

Donate to them here.

Help the koalas

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital is still taking donations, despite exceeding their initial goal of $25,000. The funds will be used to distribute drinking water stations in areas burned by wildfire, as well as to establish a wild koala breeding program. By some estimates, more than 8,000 koalas may have been killed by the fires.

In addition to longer-term projects, the hospital is working on locating koalas, and bringing them into the hospital to be rehydrated and treated for burns.

Follow the hospital’s Facebook page to keep up with relief efforts.

Donate to the Australian Red Cross

The Red Cross says it has helped more than 18,600 people affected by fires and heat waves since July. Their teams are focused on supporting Australians at evacuation centers and providing “psychological first aid” to abate trauma.

You can support them and donate here.

Open your home to someone who lost their home in the fires

If you live in Australia and have a spare bed, get connected to a person who could use it through Find A Bed. Describe the accommodations you could provide in a Google form checklist, such as how many people you could house and for how long.

Donate exact household items that Australian charities are requesting

Through the Australian nonprofit GIVIT, you can scroll through a list of specific items needed by charities. The ones highlighted in orange are for recipients affected by the bushfires. Requests include clothing vouchers, chicken coops and refrigerators. To “give” an item, simply submit a photo of the object and fill out your personal contact information on a form like this one.

You can also donate money to GIVIT.

Be cautious about donating handmade items for wildlife

Crafters took up their tools to lend some comfort to hurt animals in the wake of historic and deadly Australian bushfires. If you plan on joining the effort, some wildlife rescue facilities receiving these handmade items said to keep these tips in mind.

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