Australia is in the midst of one of the worst bushfire crises the world has seen. Since September, entire communities have been engulfed by relentless heat and fires. The flames are showing no signs of slowing down - which means only one thing... death tolls are rising.
A tremendous amount of money has so far been raised to help the struggling country, and a large chunk of that has come from a 6-year-old boy in Massachusetts, who has been selling his homemade clay koalas... Keep scrolling for the full story.
Australia is currently being torn apart by one of the worst bush fire crises seen in decades.
via: Getty ImagesDue to soaring temperatures and one of the worst droughts in years, the relentless fires have been burning since September. We're currently in January. Just let that sink in.
New South Wales is suffering immensely at the moment.
via: Getty ImagesThere have been fires reported in every state, but New South Wales is truly taking a beating by bush fires and is undoubtedly the hardest hit. More than 5,900 buildings have been destroyed.
NSW declared a state of emergency last month.
via: Getty ImagesWhat does this mean? Well, it grants "extraordinary powers" to the NSWRFS commissioner, including the authority to allocate government resources and direct government agencies in taking action, according to CNN.
Twenty-nine people have been confirmed to have died in the fires since they started...
via: Getty ImagesIncluding several volunteer firefighters.
The fires have also had a devasting impact on wildlife.
via: Getty ImagesSeveral of Australia's native species have been affected including kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, possums, wombats, and echidnas.
Over one billion animals have died.
via: Getty ImagesCBS News reports that it's thought now over one billion mammals, birds, and reptiles have died since September.
The Australian fire services have also been struggling...Firefighters all over the country have been tirelessly battling the formidable blazes and are struggling to contain them, and the fire services are truly stretched to their limits.
Australia has ultimately been forced to make a global call for help...
via: Getty ImagesAnd it was Canada that was the first to respond and take action. The Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, based in Winnipeg, answered the call for help after realizing the bush fire situation is expected to continue for many more weeks and they even gave up their Christmases to help fight the raging fires.
Other countries offered their assistance...
via: Getty ImagesIncluding the U.S. and New Zealand, who have sent in more firefighters to try and help tackles the blazes.
Volunteers have been stepping forward all around the country...
via: CBCOrdinary people with regular professions have been volunteering to help tackle the flames and they have been working for free.
Australian civilians have also been doing what they can...
via: nomadofthewavesCountless stories and photographs of the locals' bravery have been emerging, which shows courageous people who have run into the flames to rescue innocent animals.
The country has truly come together in its time of crisis.
Regular people from all over the globe have been doing their bit...
And a significant chunk of this money comes from one little boy from Hingham, Massachusetts.
via: GoFundMe6-year-old Owen Colley has been upset to hear about the Australian bushfires, his mom, Caitlyn told CNN, and the youngster was even more devastated to hear about all the animals inured in the flames.
Owen wanted to help in any way he could...
via: WBZOwen's dad grew up in the suburbs of Sydney, and Owen lived in the country as a toddler, so he feels a special connection to the country. But, being based here in the U.S, it wasn't going to be an easy task. "It was really the first time Owen had made a wish for something other than Lego or something other than himself," Caitlyn explained.
But together, the family came up with an idea.
via: WBZMiniature clay koalas were the answer. "We asked him if he wanted to help and ... together we came up with this. We could make some clay koalas and give them in response to donations from friends and family."
Owen set to work making his koalas...
via: WBZAnd his parents set up a way for people to donate to Wildlife Rescue South Coast, a wildlife rescue group in New South Wales, for every koala they purchased. So far, Owen has made around 55 koalas... But the donations have surpassed that.
Their fundraising goal was originally set at $1000...
via: GoFundMeAnd, when that was met, Owen revised his goal to $5000.
But now, it has reached a number that none of the family ever expected.
via: GoFundMeIncredibly, over $135,000 has now been raised. And, as expected, the Colley's are completely blown away. "We are blown away. We thank you for your patience as we finalize the logistics surrounding supplies, shipping, and production." They wrote on their GoFundMe page, "As you can imagine, we have been busy recruiting family and friends for koala-making parties. We love all of the offers of support flooding in, but unfortunately do not have the bandwidth to reply to everyone at this time."
What an amazing family.
via: CNNDonations that earn an Owen-created koala have come in from just about every U.S. state, and they are working hard at shipping out his creations as quickly as they can. "Anyone can make a difference and when we come together we can make an even bigger difference," Caitlyn said. "I just love the idea that maybe other kids can take this to their communities and sell little clay koalas locally and raise money for this great cause." Owen now aspires to help more organizations and animals across Australia - For photographs that sum up the crisis, keep scrolling...