Owen Colley, a 6-year-old from Hingham, Massachusetts, has done so much in a bid to help his animal friends in Australia, and he’s doing it by making one clay koala at a time. According to his mom Caitlin Colley, the little boy was upset to learn about the Australian bushfires two weeks ago.
Owen asked his mom if any animals had been hurt in the fire, and his she answered yes. He left the room quietly and drew a picture of a kangaroo, a koala and a dingo in the rain. According to his mom, the picture represented his wish for Australia. The kindergartner knows a lot of animals from Australia and he can prove it.
Owen wanted to offer help of some sort, and so he and his mom together came up with the idea to make clay koalas. The mother-son duo started making the clay koalas and give them in response to donations from friends and family. Up to date, the six-year-old Owen Colley has made around 55 clay koalas.
The Colley family is sending one of Owen’s koalas to each person that donates $50 or more. It started with $1,000 in donations via Venmo in an Instagram post, which was their fundraising goal. It got so big that the family launched a GoFundMe campaign.
The fires have impacted around half a billion animals in New South Wales alone, and millions of them are potentially deadly, according to ecologists at the University of Sydney. Birds, reptiles and mammals, except bats, are among those affected. Insects and frogs aren’t included in that number.
In just a week, Owen has raised over $20,000 for the rescue team as of Tuesday evening. His father, Simon, grew up in the suburbs of Sydney, and Owen even lived in Australia for a few months when he was a toddler. His mom added that Owen talked about missing Australia and wanting to go back.
His mom said he was sad when she told him it wasn’t a good time to go because of the fires. His mom sketched the koala, an iconic Australian animal, and together they created the design for the clay creatures. Making the koala heads is Owen’s favourite part, she said.
Owen uses silver Sculpey clay to make the koala’s head and body. He adds white clay to make its fluffy ears and black clay to shape the animal’s face. Owen’s clay koalas will go to the homes of people who donated $50 or more, the koalas bake in the oven at 275 degrees, and that takes 17 minutes, Colley said. The creations are called Owen’s clay koalas.
Donations that earn an Owen-created koala have come in from just about every US state, Colley said. Mom and dad will pay the shipping costs of the koalas when they’re ready to be sent out. Owen aspires to help more organizations and help animals across Australia, Colley said.