6-Year-Old Boy is Making Clay Koalas to Help Australian Animals

He crowdsourced over $268,000 for animals affected by the bushfires.

Jan 24, 2020


6-Year-Old Boy is Making Clay Koalas to Help Australian Animals | He crowdsourced over $268,000 for animals affected by the bushfires.

One little boy in Hingham, Massachusetts loves animals so much that he decided to help the Australian animals that were injured and impacted by the recent fires. And he is doing it one Koala – clay koalas that is –   at a time.

When 6-year-old Owen Colley heard about the devastating bushfires in Australia in November, he asked his mom Caitlin Colley if any animals were hurt. She told CNN that she answered him honestly by saying yes.

Then, she said he quietly left the room and drew a picture of a kangaroo, a koala and a dingo in the rain. That drawing expressed his wish for rain in Australia to put out the fires and save the animals.

"It was really the first time Owen had made a wish for something other than Lego or something other than himself," Caitlin Colley told CNN. "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."

The family decided that anyone who donated $50 or more to Wildlife Rescue South Coast in New South Wales – an area that was greatly impacted by the fires would receive a handmade clay koala.

Making the clay koalas was child's play for this boy. His mom sketched the design and the clay critters are made of Sculpey clay. It takes around 3 or 4 minutes to make each one. The heads and bodies are made of silver clay, white clay is used for the ears, and black clay for the faces. The clay Koalas are then baked for 17 minutes. To date, the Colley family has made 55 clay koala figures.

The family actually ran out of clay and they are waiting for a new shipment to come in. "We're seeing all of the donations coming in and we're like, 'Oh my gosh, we don't have the clay,'" Colley 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.

The fundraiser started small with just a $1,000 goal via Venmo in an Instagram post on an Instagram post but it grew so large that the family started a $5,000 GoFundMe campaign. Donations poured in and they just hit the $268, 000 mark. Donations ranged from $5 to $150. The family had to update the page and say that they could no longer send a thank you note and a clay figure.

Wildlife Rescue's 300 volunteers are dropping food in the fire-affected areas, according to the GoFundMe description The rescue organization will also maintain feeding areas, build aviaries for injured raptors and flying foxes, and support clinics to help the thousands of orphaned joeys (baby kangaroos).

His parents told CNN that they explained the amount of funds raised in a child-friendly way saying that every $25  raised feeds a joey for a month. After all, he is only in kindergarten.

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The outpouring of generosity and support has been overwhelming. Thank you ?????????????? #owensrescue #littleclaykoalas #owensclaykoalas

A post shared by Owen Colley (@littleclaykoalas) on

While Owen is a typical American kid, he's interested in Australia because his Dad, Simon grew up outside of Sydney and Owen even lived there when he was a toddler.

"I want them to know more about Australia and I want them to know more about what animals are in Australia," Owen said. The child already knows quite a bit about the animals that live down under.

"He has a pull to Australia," Colley said. "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."

The Cooley family joined people worldwide in raising funds to Australians to cope with the aftermath of the fires. The need is so great and there are many funds to give to. Some help the nearly half a billion animals that were impacted by the fires. Others help the communities that were destroyed, and some go to help the firefighters that bravely fought the flames. Kindness and generosity truly have no borders.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.