Alongside the heroic efforts of emergency services, celebrities used their Golden Globes speeches on Sunday night to call for climate change action and a fundraiser launched by Australian comedian Celeste Barber has raised more than AU $32m (£17m) to help the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
Since September, the fires have killed at least 24 people, and dozens of people are believed to be missing. The flames have destroyed more than 1,500 homes, ripped through the landscape and killed an estimated half a billion animals.
But as evacuations continue, Australians have shown once again that amid tragedy and destruction, you can always find kindness.
Regular members of the public have been going above and beyond to help one another, too. Here are just a few of their stories, plus how you can make a difference.
The locals taking strangers in
More than 3,000 people have joined the Facebook group ’Bushfire Emergency Accommodation in Canberra’, which was initially set up to connect people with a spare room to those who have lost their homes.
The page is packed with offers of spare beds, as well as kindhearted posts from people without accommodation space who are still offering to help in any way they can. From the man volunteering to clear people’s gutters to help asthmatics, to the woman opening her home for “showers, a cuppa and a cool drink”, the generosity keeps on coming.
The people knitting to help wildlife
The Animal Rescue Craft Guild told Reuters they’ve been inundated with offers of help after issuing a callout for craft creations to aid wildlife.
People have been making soft koala mittens, birds nests, bat wraps and joey pouches for baby kangaroos who’ve lost their mothers. The items have been donated and distributed to animal rescue centres across the country, helping animals who’ve been transported away from the fires and are recovering without the comfort of their natural habitat.
Here's just one item needed to help wildlife in Australia. Crocheted nests for birds and rodents. Very clear video tutorial available here https://t.co/cgivB2t1UI Other instructions for both knitting and crocheting here https://t.co/PRbP66CPnP pic.twitter.com/kFMawYXFpM
— Linda Stromberg (@LKStromberg) January 6, 2020
The man helping journalists on the ground
Journalist Brett Mcleod has been reporting on the fires for 9 News, sharing videos and photos from the ground with people around the world. When he and his team found themselves without a roof for the night, he asked around if someone had a spare floor. A local man named Pete stepped in.
“This is what Aussies do”
When we opted to stay in burnt out Lake Conjola last night I met a local named Pete and asked if he knew of a floor my crew and I could sleep on.
“Take my place mate,” he said in a flash. This is the note he left.
I can’t thank him enough. #NSWfires pic.twitter.com/EuYavYHK3I
— Brett Mcleod (@Brett_McLeod) January 2, 2020
As well as providing shelter, Pete left the crew a note, telling them to help themselves to showers, food and filtered clean water, because “this is what Aussies do for one another in times of need”.
The restaurant owners giving out free food
Restaurant owner Kanwaljit Singh has teamed up with the not-for-profit group Sikh Volunteers Australia to cook and distribute free food for those affected by the fires.
Singh and his team are busy cooking huge batches of rice, flour and lentils from their base at The Desi Grill in Bairnsdale, Victoria.
“Many people have lost their homes and farmhouses and they are forced to live in temporary shelters and camps,” he told SBSPunjabi. “We follow the Sikh way of life. We are just doing what other Australians are doing today, and that is to serve and pray for the people who have been hit hard by these terrible bushfires.”
How can you help Australia?
Even from the other side of the world, you can make a difference to help the people and animals affected by the bushfires.
WWF is fundraising to help save koalas impacted by the fires, collecting donations to administer emergency care for burnt and injured animals. It will then use funds to plant new trees, in an effort to restore the koalas’ habitat.
The Red Cross is running a disaster relief donation drive. Funds collected will go towards supporting people at evacuation centres, psychological first aid to reduce trauma, grants to people who have lost their homes and more.
The Salvation Army is also accepting donations, which will help to provide meals to evacuees and emergency service workers.
It may not have an immediate impact, but trying to live a greener life in 2020 to reduce your environmental impact can help longterm, as can supporting sustainable initiatives and pressuring MPs to make greener policies.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.