SilverStar employees and Australians Darren Cook and Rhi Hutcheson organized a fundraiser barbecue in support of the bushfire battling efforts on Jan. 8, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star) SilverStar employees and Australians Darren Cook and Rhi Hutcheson organized a fundraiser barbecue in support of the bushfire battling efforts on Jan. 8, 2020. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)

WATCH: SilverStar fundraiser raises $38K for Australia

‘It’s been pretty devastating all across the country and there’s no end in sight’

SilverStar Mountain Resort’s Australian Wildfire Sausage Sizzle and Raffle fundraiser garnered more than $38,000 to support Australia in their efforts to battle the worst fire season on record.

“It’s been pretty devastating all across the country and there’s no end in sight,” SilverStar staff and Australian Darren Cook said.

Cook, alongside girlfriend Rhi Hutcheson, said they felt helpless being so far from home while Australia is facing a crisis and they wanted to give back in anyway they could.

“We are just stoked,” the organizers said. “We are overwhelmed. It’s been amazing.”

“The local community’s generosity has blown us away,” they said. “We hope it helps out back home.”

SilverStar leaped at the opportunity to help. Not only did the resort help spread the word about the Sausage Sizzle and raffle, but the new owners, POWDR, and its previous owners, the Canns, have agreed to to match the funds raised Wednesday — tripling the total from $12,800 to more than $38,000.

The staff at Town Hall promised to dedicate their tips for the week to the cause and will continue to donate a percentage for the duration of the season.

“There is a strong Australian representation up here at SilverStar,” Hutcheson said. “We have about 187 staff here that are from Australia and everybody has some sort of connection to the bushfires.”

This is Hutcheson and Cook’s first winter season in Canada and they are blown away by the reception — in fact, they said they’ve lost count of the donations they’ve already received.

“We were originally planing something quite small and it escalated into quite a large event,” Cook said.

Although neither of the event’s organizers have been directly affected by the bushfires back home, they are still at a loss for words.

“Thousands of houses have been lost, volunteer firefighters have died this fire season and the loss of wildlife is a big thing we’re upset about,” Cook said. “The latest we’ve heard is an estimated 800 million animals perished in the fires so far and it’s only the start of January which is the start of fire season.”

Cook said fire seasons in Australia can last into March or April.

The fires have already wiped out 30 per cent of the koala population and are expected to worsen as temperatures rise.

After extensive research and deliberation, the Volunteer Team who organized this initiative have decided to donate the funds to the Community Enterprise Foundation: National Bushfire Disaster Appeal as they are able to distribute funds to affected areas nationwide and WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.) due to the devastation to many native Australian animals.

READ MORE: VIDEO: How to help the animals affected by Australia’s wildfires

READ MORE: SilverStar supports ‘family’ battling Australian wildfires


@VernonNews
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