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!