Videos of fire filled the wall of The FAR Contemporary Center of Art, and tables of items for auction lined the room. A band played in the corner as guests stood around and bid on items.
Senior, Michaela Dumesny, an IU student from Australia, and Bloomington residents from Australia came together to put on a charity event to support the bushfires in Australia. All proceeds from the event will be donated to NSW Rural Fire Service, WIRES and other Australian charities.
“I went back home over Christmas, and it's really hard to watch,” Dumesny said. “So when I got back, I was like, I'm going to plan this event, and I've been trying to do something ever since.”
According to the NSW Rural Fire Service, in 2019, Australia suffered from devastating bushfire season, which resulted in 34 deaths and 18 million hectares burned. On March 3 the service tweeted “For the first time since early July 2019, there is currently no active bush or grass fires in #NSW.
“Some of my family got evacuated a couple of times because the fires were getting pretty bad, but in the end the houses were okay and everyone was alright,” Dumesny said. “My dad, when he was pretty young, had to help protect my grandparents' dairy farm from the fire that is known in Australia as Ash Wednesday. It’s always been something that hits close to home.”
The event had a silent auction, which included items such as gift cards to local restaurants, a signed poster from IU football, jewelry, Little 500 tickets and several pieces of artwork. There was also live music and an opportunity to take a photo and pet a wallaby from Zoo'Opolis Exotic Petting Zoo, which is an Australian native animal.
"We heard about this event on the radio,” event attendee Colin Brown said. “My parents are from Australia so we are always looking for ways to support, and any dollar amount helps.”
IU senior Hannah Marshall is majoring in event planning, and when she heard about this event she said she couldn’t turn down the opportunity to help a good cause while getting some experience.
“Michaela did a group project with me and every day she’d come in and be like guys ten days to my event. Since I’m going into event planning, I asked if I could help and I did some logistical pieces to the event,” Marshall said. “I knew she was so passionate about it, I just wanted to help out in whatever way I could.”
The event raised $1,075.27. For more information or to donate go to the Australian Bushfire Fundraiser.
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