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Helping Australia

It can be easy to separate yourself from crises when they aren’t necessarily affecting you. It is difficult to watch others suffer, but when the suffering occurs on the other side of the planet, you sometimes feel compelled to turn a blind eye and hide yourself from a grave reality.

The Australian wildfires, heartbreaking and devastating, have become the center of national news coverage attention. Since October, the wildfires have overwhelmed the country, killing and injuring many people and resulting in the death of an estimated 1 billion animals. 1 billion animals!

Charlotte County, I know, seems very far away from Australia. The tragedy over there is sickening and sadenning, yet it is easy to feel that there’s no way to help such a crisis happening all the way on the other side of a planet. You may feel that there’s nothing you can do to help in the fight. You may feel that all you can do is watch and perhaps pray.

However, there are many ways that you as a resident of Charlotte County can help to aid in the battle.

One of the largest ways that you can help with this tragedy is to donate to appropriate organizations. The Australian Red Cross is accepting donations to a Disaster Relief and Recovery Fund. According to its website, the Australian Red Cross has been able to deploy 1,285 trained staff and volunteers to disaster-affected communities thanks to these types of donations.

Other groups, like Salvation Army Australia, are taking monetary donations to help provide mental health support and housing to those affected by the wildfires.

It feels unreal when I say that 1 billion animals have died as a result of these wildfires. The disaster has put countless Australian animals in jeopardy and has devastated native animal populations including kangaroos and koalas. Animal lovers might consider donating to organizations like the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. The hospital’s Go Fund Me campaign, in partnership with the National Parks and Wildlife Service, helps in the search for koalas in the Port Macquarie area. At least 31 koalas have been brought to the hospital from several fire grounds, and more than $4 million donations have been raised so far.

It may feel like Australia is so far away that it might as well be a foreign planet. All that I ask is that you think of just how overwhelmed and overworked Australia’s firefighters are. Think of the people that have lost their homes and their communities. Think of the countless animals that have lost their habitat.

When tragedy strikes our community, we rally together to help those affected. We stick together in the name of helping one another. Australia is over 10,000 miles away from Charlotte County, but let’s treat them like our neighbors.

If you are able to donate anything at all, please consider doing so. Beware of websites that might attempt to scam you out of your donations, and make sure to do your research before giving out any personal information. Links regarding all of the organizations that I mentioned and many more can be found at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/06/world/australia/help-australia-fires.html.

Alexa Massey is a staff reporter for The Charlotte Gazette and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. Her email address is Alexa.Massey@TheCharlotteGazette.com.