How Aussies are rallying to help as a record bushfire season hits

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WHILST Red Cross Australia volunteers help in evacuation and recovery centres, Australians have found inventive ways to raise funds to support people in times of disasters. Thank you to everyone who has generously given so far.

From punk rockers to rally car drivers to school kids, these are just a few of the great people who have been raising money for the Disaster Relief and Recovery fund which helps communities before, during and after a disaster.

– Brisbane punk rock band, The Black Catapult, has released a cover of Hunters and Collectors’ hit single ‘When The River Runs Dry’ and are donating 100% of the proceeds from sales to Red Cross disaster relief fund.

– Residents, staff and relatives of Peninsula Villages on the Central Coast raised $1,000 for us through tin collections. “Many of our residents have lived through previous natural disasters, world wars and the Great Depression themselves and wanted to do something meaningful to help those families affected by the devastation,” CEO Shane Neaves said.

– Andrew Priestley is swimming 100km in 100 days this summer to raise money for Red Cross. The Melbourne man wants people affected by the bushfires to know “we’re here to rally around them and support them in their hour of need”. It’s easy to think a problem is too big and there’s nothing you can do to help, he says. “I’d encourage anyone who wants to get involved in fundraising to do so. Together, our small efforts can make a big difference.”

– When the bushfires forced the cancellation of the Australian leg of FIA World Rally Championships in Coffs Harbour, the drivers and organisers instead spent time supporting affected communities. They joined in a volunteer thank you function, visited the RFS Control Centre and donated $11,000 to Red Cross.

– A Christmas concert held in the High Court of Australia in Canberra raised about $1,500 for the fund. Every year the performers – who this year included sopranos Jenny Sawer and Ashleigh Lane, the Llewellyn Choir and the Canberra Girls Grammar Handbell Choir – give their services for free and ask the audience to donate to a chosen charity. This year their thoughts were with bushfire-affected communities.

– Students at Earlwood Montessori Academy in Sydney staged an auction of artworks they had created about the bushfires and raised more than $3,000 for us. The students, aged one to six, have been learning about the impact of bushfires and the importance of helping one another.

– Every year Carissa Joyce and her family, from Grafton, stage a Christmas light display outside their house and collect donations for charity. This year the family – who live near the bushfire-affected Clarence Valley – are collecting for our disaster fund. “We love spreading our Christmas spirit … to then be able to donate money to a charity on top of this is so special.”

– Shannon Logan, owner of Brisbane record store Jet Black Cat Music, hosted a community get-together after noticing locals were feeling hopeless in the face of the fires. The event, which included live music and a bake sale, also raised money for Red Cross. “We celebrated music and community and the heaviness just lifted,” she says. “We’re all in this together and together we can make a difference.” This is Shannon and Nick Goding, owner of local bar The End and her co-host, with our youth worker Matt Scurrah.

– Together the Vietnamese Community in Australia’s New South Wales and South Australia chapters have so far raised more than $63,000 for the disaster fund.

– Diesel, from entertainment troupe Magic Men Australia, rallied his fans for the cause posting a video on Instagram about the bushfires, with a link to our fund. “The one thing I love about Australians is that Aussies help other Aussies in times of need … dig deep in your pockets, help out your fellow man.”

– Aussie musical tribute band Never Ending 80s have taken Wham’s iconic hit Wake Me Up Before You Go Go and put a Christmas spin on it. They are donating all the proceeds from the 2019 sales of their song to Red Cross.

– Richard Matthews, the CEO of mining company RPM Global, agreed to shave off hair if his company raised $5,000 for Red Cross. They did and now have a very bald CEO.

– Over $2 million was raised through the ABC New Year’s Eve donation drive to support people affected by disasters like these terrible fires. Your generosity means so much as we start the new decade. It means Australia’s Red Cross trained people can be there to help people get through disasters. Thanks to our partners at the @ABCaustralia and City of Sydney for all your support.

Story Credit: Red Cross Australia