The moment Lauren Smith saw the photos of the wildfires raging through Australia, she felt helpless.
The picture-perfect version she recalled of the ‘Land Down Under’ from her travels in 2005, was drastically different compared to what she saw on social media.
“While I was there, kangaroos are similar to what deer are like here [in Victoria],” Smith said. “It’s all so beautiful with the koalas hanging from the trees. It was night and day.”
Australia has been dealing with some of the continent’s worst wildfires since September.
The fires have already wiped out 30 per cent of the koala population and are expected to worsen as temperatures rise. To date, the fires have killed 25 people and an estimated 500 million animals, and destroyed almost 1,900 homes. More than 100,000 people have been forced to evacuate to escape the flames.
As PAC vice president of Crystal View Elementary, she quickly realized that she had the power to help out in her own way – by diverting funds from an upcoming bottle drive to go towards helping Australia.
On Jan. 11, from 9 a.m. to noon, residents can drop empty bottles at Crystal View Elementary. Half of the funds will be donated towards helping organizations that are assisting on the front lines of the fires.
Smith is still researching which organization the funds should be directed for, whether it be the World Wildlife Fund, Australia Red Cross, or the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park to name a few.
Those who are unable to drop off their bottles during the drive can make their way to Langford Return-It bottle depot and donate their return funds towards Crystal View Elementary.
– with files from The Canadian Press