Like many people, Owen Colley was appalled when he learned that nearly half a billion animals have been affected by the raging bushfires in Australia.
Although he’s just 6 years old, Owen has a special connection with Australia and the people and animals who live there. Owen’s dad Simon Colley grew up outside of Sydney, and Owen lived there himself for a few months when he was a toddler.
“He has a pull to Australia,” said Owen’s mom Caitlin Colley. “He’s very proud of the fact that he lived there. I don’t think he remembers any of it but he’s proud of it.”
After Owen heard about the thousands of animals affected by the fires, he grew quiet and left the room. He then began to draw a picture of a kangaroo, a koala and a dingo in the rain, a child’s wish for a cleansing rain that might extinguish the blaze. When Caitlin asked if he would like to do something to try to help, Owen leaped at the chance.
“It was really the first time Owen had made a wish for something other than Lego or something other than himself,” Caitlin said. “We asked him if he wanted to help and … together we came up with this. We could make some clay koalas and give them in response to donations from friends and family.”
Owen always loved making clay animals, but now he set about this activity with a new goal in mind. The Colley family decided to use his cute little koalas as incentive for donations. Any person who sends a donation of $50 or more to Wildlife Rescue South Coast, a wildlife rescue group in New South Wales, will receive one of Owen’s handmade masterpieces.
Owen set a modest goal of raising $1,000, which he quickly smashed. As word got out the Colleys opened a GoFundMe to raise more awareness. To date, Owen’s Koalas have raised a jaw-dropping $57,000 for the rescue group!
Each koala takes Owen about 3-4 minutes to make by hand using silver Sculpey clay. They then bake the figures in a 275 degree oven for 17 minutes. So far Owen has made about 55 koala sculptures for donors. It would be more except they’ve run out of clay and need to wait for a new shipment!
“We’re seeing all of the donations coming in and we’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, we don’t have the clay,'” Caitlin said. “We have every intention to fulfill every koala, it just won’t happen by tomorrow. It’s a 6-year-old using his little hands to make the spaces and the ears, so it does take time.”
This little boy is showing the world that it doesn’t matter how small you are, everybody has the ability to make a real difference in the world. Way to go, Owen!
Please share this story to get the word out about Owen’s Clay Koalas and if you would like to donate you can do so here.
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