For many Australians, the past summer will be one they will never forget due to the recent bushfire crisis.
This summer, more than 12.6 million hectares burned. Approximately 434 million tonnes of carbon dioxide were emitted into the atmosphere. 33 people died. And next to this loss of human life, over one billion animals were killed in the fires, with many others left injured and starving due to the destruction of their habitat.
While the coronavirus pandemic is serious and ongoing, the sheer scale of suffering and devastation of these catastrophic fires that swept across the country is like nothing we have seen before, devastating communities, destroying wildlife populations and leaving many feeling bereft and overwhelmed.
However, as the deadly bushfires ravaged Australia, compassion proved to burn brighter still as kind people from all over the world extended their hands in friendship and assistance to those in need — human and animal alike.
Uniting in the global effort to help animals affected by these devastating fires, Geelong’s connoisseur of pop culture collectables Popcultcha, and Washington-based Consumer products company Funko, came together to raise funds for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to help with the Australian Bushfire Crisis through the sale of a Special Edition Collectable – Bushfire Heroes Firefighter with Koala Pop! Vinyl Figure.
Initially designed in-house at Popcultcha, the figurine features an Australian firefighter with a Koala hugging its leg (it’s so cute we could cry), representing all of the emergency service workers and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to help rescue injured and displaced animals that have suffered as a result of the devastating bushfires.
“Our bushfire crisis got a lot of coverage in the US and so I think it was something that was actively spoken about in the Funko headquarters [Everett, Washington USA],” explains Ash Howard, Director of Popcultcha. “We’ve got a pretty close relationship with them, working together for almost two decades now. We kind of grew up together in the collectables industry and they were very quick to check in and see if we were affected by it, and how they could help.
“They were on board straight away to make this happen as quickly as we possibly could. It’s lovely to see our industry come together in a time of need and achieve great things.”
All profits from the limited-edition vinyl figure, which was available for $19.99 Australian dollars, was donated to the RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal who are working alongside government and emergency agencies, veterinarians and local authorities to provide much-needed equipment and supplies, emergency care and identifying and assessing injured animals in need of assistance. Their work will continue for weeks, months and even years after the fires have ceased.
“We watched the whole fundraising efforts pretty closely, and we knew that there was a lot of activity with the Bendigo Bank bushfire appeal, which we donated $10,000 to right off the bat, but then we thought about all the work the RSPCA have ahead of them,” Howard reveals. “The rehabilitation of all the animals was going to be long-term and I think that’s kind of where we landed.
“There has been an unfathomable number of animals lost or in need of rescue and rehabilitation as a result of this disastrous fire season and we recognise that we all need to help wherever and however we can. We are just hoping that the money can really get directed towards where it’s needed the most and the ongoing effort that they’re doing.”
Upon announcing the limited-edition collectable, there was an overwhelming worldwide demand for the item, with collectors from all corners of the globe contributing to the cause leading to 750,000 Australian dollars been donated to the RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal.
If you were lucky enough to pre-order one of these collectables, you’ll be pleased to know that it landed in the Popcultcha Warehouse last month, with dispatch expected to continue throughout June and July. Unfortunately this is a limited edition, so if you didn’t manage to pre-order the item, you unfortunately won’t be able to buy one direct from Popcultcha.
— Georgia (@Georgia22440) June 15, 2020
If you would like more information about the RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal or are looking to make an additional donation you can do so via bushfires.rspca.org.au/