The executive director of a Butler County arts organization is helping publicize a fundraiser in support of firefighters battling bush fires that have done “unimaginable” damage to Australia, his native country.
Ian MacKenzie-Thurley, executive director of the Fitton Center for Creative Arts in Hamilton, said entire towns have been destroyed by the fires that have been burning for weeks.
MacKenzie-Thurley, 45, said his 80-year-old mother has told him the fires, an annual occurrence in Australia, have been the “worst” she has witnessed.
So when he was contacted by Miranda McGee, organizer of the Rescue the Down Under fundraiser, he asked, “What can we do to help?”
He has contacted local media about the event and is helping solicit area businesses for donations. He called the response “overwhelming.”
Even his daughter, Lily, 10, a fifth-grader at Bridgeport Elementary School in Hamilton, is helping. She made a presentation Thursday night and sought donations. She collected $28, but through social media, those donations exceeded $800 by Friday, her father said.
McGee, an Australian citizen, was struck seeing images of her homeland burning when she approached a local bar, Queen City Radio, about hosting an Australia Day benefit with portion of proceeds benefiting the Red Cross, Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) and the Australian Bushfire Relief Fund (ABRF).
McGee said she was “blown away” by the outpouring of support the Cincinnati community has offered to this cause.
She said local breweries, theatres, sports teams and Cincinnati institutions have reached out and offered to donate silent auction items and experiences and local companies have said they will match what is raised.
She said that generosity has been “incredibly humbling.”
The event will feature a silent auction, drink specials, and a raffle with food by the Chicken Mac Truck. Live music will be performed by local musicians Frankly Speaking, Zack Sliver, and Nick Federinko.
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