A Random Act of Kindness that Spread Like Wildfire

Entrepreneurs, Opinions, Public Relations, Social Media Posted Jan 24, 2020 by Kayla Krause

Australia is suffering the worst wildfires the continent has ever seen. Fires blaze across its six states, with the state of New South Wales being hit the hardest. It’s believed that a lightning strike ignited the first blaze and things spread from there.

Making matters worse, since it’s summer in Australia, the hot and dry weather creates a perfect environment for the fires to start…and spread. In addition to human casualties, the wildlife has been devastated – birds, reptiles and mammals, including a third of koalas in New South Wales.

Countries around the globe have been providing aid, including the United States.

One noteworthy assistant has come from our home state of Massachusetts, and has recently gained national attention, all for an amazing cause.

After hearing about the Australia wildfires, six-year-old Owen Colley was saddened, especially upon learning that many of the animals had been hurt. In addition to wishing for rain, Owen told his parents he wanted to do something to help.  So, together, they came up with the idea to make clay koalas and ship them to friends and family who made donations of $50 or more to the Wildlife Rescue South Coast, an all-volunteer rescue group in New South Wales.

Owen’s original goal was to raise $1,000 via his Mom’s Instagram account. Word about his good deed spread quickly via the media throughout New England … and then around the world.  The visibility this provided is the stuff viral marketing success stories are made of – and social marketing savants would envy!

Based on an outpouring of support – prompted by buzz fueled via broadcast, print, online and social sites – donations started pouring in from people around the country and across the globe. Owen’s fundraiser quickly needed to shift to a GoFundMe page that upped the donation goal to $5,000.

The tally as of this writing…a whopping $270,000 and still going! The “koala kid” and his parents are having trouble keeping up with demand! But when they take a break, we hope they congratulate themselves for their outstanding social responsibility – and for Mom and Dad, their obvious outstanding parenting!



It’s pretty inspiring to hear how a six-year-old wanted to help others and do this good and completely selfless deed. He, of course, had help from his parents, but they decided to tap into Owen’s love for art and that’s how they came up with the idea of creating the clay koala bears. Though Owen and his family live in Hingham, MA, Owen’s dad is an Australian native, which has inspired Owen’s love for the country and being proud that he, too, lived there for a few months when he was a toddler. CHEN PR has crossed paths with his dad, Simon, as he is an old friend of the agency. When we heard about his son’s fundraiser, we couldn’t help but smile and think that we need a little more of this in the world today.

With climate change being talked about so often, natural disasters like this make these conversation topics actual reality. There are studies being conducted to decipher just how global warming is or could be affecting wildfires – whether it’s the most recent ones in Australia or those in California. While there are several aspects to climate change—from the fuels and the environment to people and the best management practices—this is a problem worldwide.

With no immediate solution, it’s important for people to be open and caring to others when they are being affected by these natural disasters. As for Owen’s koala creations, they’ve become a collector’s item, as he and his parents are holding off on making any new ones since they and volunteers are tackling the task of making about 3,000 more to fill orders from donations already made!

However, if you’d like to contribute to the fundraiser, you can still donate here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/owen039s-australian-creature-rescue

I think Owen’s mom, Caitlin, said it best: “The kindness has been overwhelming” – let’s keep the ball rolling and continue to be kind to one another – it’s the least we can do!”