The Australian comedian Celeste Barber has helped raise more than $20m to help the New South Wales Rural Fire Service fight the devastating bushfires around the state, as fundraising efforts ramp up in response to the crisis.
By mid afternoon on Sunday the tally had reached more than $22m, around 48 hours after Barber launched the fundraiser on Facebook.
Barber, who has 6.4m followers on Instagram, has used her huge social media following to draw donations from around the world.
In regular updates on Instagram, she has spoken about family members caught up in the crisis in Eden, including her parents-in-law. She said her father-in-law was evacuated overnight.
World No.1 tennis player Ashleigh Barty on Sunday pledged to donate all of her Brisbane International prize money to the bushfire appeal. She is the top seed in the Brisbane event which starts on Monday, with the winner taking home $US250,000 ($A360,000).
After donating more than $30,000 late last year to the RSPCA to help wildlife affected by the national disaster, Barty said she wanted to dig deep again for families who have been left devastated by bushfires.
Barty joined a growing list of sports stars and organisations to lend their support with the NRL, Football Federation Australia, Netball Australia and two-time Dakar Rally winner Toby Price among those coming on board on Sunday.
Barty’s offer follows the lead of fellow Australian tennis player Nick Kyrgios who sparked the massive fundraising effort.
Kyrgios’s social media call for a fundraiser resulted in Tennis Australia announcing a Rally for Relief exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena on 15 January, which is set to feature some of the world’s top players.
On Saturday the American singer Pink pledged $500,000 to Australian fire services and called on her followers to help by making a donation.
“I am totally devastated watching what is happening in Australia right now with the horrific bushfires,” she tweeted.
On Sunday morning Nicole Kidman posted on Instagram that she was also donating $500,000 to fires services.
Barber’s fundraiser has been shared by other celebrities, including the actor Natalie Portman and the singer Lizzo. Lizzo used her Instagram stories to encourage her followers to donate to environmental organisations working to save koala populations.
The ABC reported on Sunday that its disaster relief and recovery appeal with the Australian Red Cross had raised more than $10m for bushfire-affected communities.
Social media is full of stories of community members offering generosity and support to devastated communities.
Guardian Australia came across a group of residents from western Sydney who brought a haul of food and drinks to Nowra on Sunday morning.
Maddison Elabed said they received an enormous amount of donations, including the trucks and vans to bring everything down.
“Everything we got was 100% donated and is 100% for the fires,” she said.
The residents were inspired by stories of firefighters finishing a shift only to come back to base and find no food.
“When we saw the state of these two firies that were sitting in a car waiting for a food truck to come and it came and it was empty, we were like: ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’ ” says Melissa Nasr.
“God sent us there,” adds Elabed.
“They were about to leave when we rocked up. They’re saying thank you to us, but we’re saying thank you to them.”
They said it’s an eye-opener going out to fire-affected areas.
“I know the world is falling apart too but this is our home. We’re going to do everything we can to keep our home safe. People are out there leaving their families to fight and save us. Anything we can do we are gonna do it.”
A Facebook fundraiser for Victoria’s Country Fire Authority had raised more than $600,000 in less than 48 hours.
Others have set up pages for donations of food, water and other essential supplies.
A separate fundraiser for the Wires wildlife rescue service in NSW has raised more than $773,000, surpassing a $500,000 target, in one day.
There is growing global and celebrity support for bushfire fundraising efforts, with the reality TV star Kim Kardashian West among those lending support by sharing social media links on how to donate.
with Australian Associated Press