Sunday, February 08, 2009

Victoria bush fires

Over the weekend, deadly wildfires ignited in Victoria, Australia, that have left over a hundred dead and hundreds of people homeless. Extreme climactic conditions (over 40 degrees and 100 km/hr winds) spread the fires far faster than could possibly be contained, and most people had no warning before the sky blackened and the flames surrounded them. With calmer, cooler weather today, the fires are being brought under control, but they are still burning, possibly helped by "firebugs" (the news' nice word for arsonists) who ignite areas that have already been extinguished. Looking at the pictures and reading the stories have brought back memories of the only comparison I personally have: Hurricane Katrina. The source and scale of the devastation are different, but in other ways, this is too close to being the same. I know what these people are experiencing, and it hurts my heart...but as has been my line for the past three-plus years on the Katrina subject, "Don't even get me started." In the midst of the horror, there were innumerable kindnesses. The generosity and support of total strangers moved us to tears time and again, and it brought hope in a hopeless situation. I want to somehow do that for the survivors of these fires, particularly (probably because I'm a mom) for the children. I want to help, and I want to help as much as possible.

So, here's my idea: As a committee member of the Nedlands Toy Library, I have a great link to lots of locals. I checked with the other committee members today (as well as the Salvation Army, which is handling all item donations) and we will host a new toy drive this week. Anyone who wants to help can drop off a new toy and new or gently used children's clothing during toy library hours (9:30am-11am) this Thursday and Saturday, and I will box them up Saturday afternoon and send them on their way. By limiting the drive to this week, I hope to get comfort on its way as soon as possible.

So...if you read this blog and happen to live in the Perth area, please bring a new toy and/or children's clothing to the Nedlands Toy Library this Thursday or Saturday between 9:30 and 11am. Let's give the children who've made it through the wildfires a new reason to smile. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

I wish I did live in the Perth area, but alas I live in Virginia. If it is not too much trouble could you please send along a toy or 2 from me?

You are a very dear and gentle soul! We have been watching the devastation on the nightly news here, as well as The Weather Channel. Anything at all I can do to help from this side of the world?

All my love,


Christine said...

Great idea Jennifer - you're so kind and it's wonderful that you're doing what you can - if we were there you know we'd contribute.
We drove through the affected areas when we were in Australia in 2007 and looking at the photos of those beautiful roads through the forests I can see how those trying to flee had no chance when the forest went up... It's horrifying to think what those poor people went through.
I'm sorry it brought back all those awful memories of Katrina...
Love from all of us
Chris x

Anonymous said...

Please, if you would pick up a doll or toy or two for me to send to the children of the fires. Let me know the cost and I will put in your account. Children of disasters are so helpless and sad. You are wonderful for what all you are doing. I know there, like here after Hurricane Katrina, the people want to help...they just need someone to follow, someone to tell them how to help. Thank you for being that leader they need.

Much love,


the dipe squad said...

Thank you for your supportive words and encouragement! It feels so good to be able to do something, and I can hardly wait to watch it take shape tomorrow (our first collection day)! I promise to post with the results. Mom and Mary, we will include toys from you in our donation. Thank you for your generosity!