JACKSON, Wyo. — As much of Australia continues to burn in brush fires across the nation, businesses in Jackson are stepping up to help.

Two local businesses are raising and donating funds for the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie, Australia.

First, the Jackson Hole Children’s Museum is hosting a morning of crafts and stories for and about koalas tomorrow, January 24. Activities will include a koala care storytime and fun koala-inspired craft. Raffle tickets will be on sale for $5, and all proceeds will benefit the Koala Hospital. Crafts and activities start at 11 a.m.

Raffle prizes include:

Katie the Koala Cake, donated by Buttercream Design Co.
A koala storybook, donated by Jackson Hole Book Trader
A koala stuffed animal, donated by Teton Toys

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has also committed $10,000 of its own money to the Koala Hospital. JHMR’s relationship with Australia is strong and lasting, said JHMR spokesperson Anna Cole, and they couldn’t sit idly by.

“They’re like friends and family,” Cole said. “We knew we wanted to do something.”

JHMR already hosts its own Australia Day every year — the official national day of Australia. JHMR’s version is as much a party, just on U.S. soil and with snow. JHMR will use this Australia Day to raise additional funds for the Koala Hospital if partygoers want to buy a raffle.

“We’ve hosted this party annually for years, and this year should be bigger and better than ever,” Cole said. “It’s doubly fun — we’re doing good and having a good time.”

Wildfire recovery is a long road, and $10,000 feels like a “small contribution” in the scheme of things, Cole said, but it’s something. “We know it can help.”

The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital has raised more than $7 million dollars since a GoFundMe campaign started in October. Funds are intended to build automatic drinking stations in areas that have been heavily affected by the fires and where koalas were dying of dehydration. The hospital hopes to build and deploy 100 stations that will be shared will other wildlife organizations in fire-affected areas of New South Wales, according to the GoFundMe page.

Additional funds have also allowed the program to start a Wild Koala Breeding Program to ensure the “ongoing survival of healthy wild koalas.”

“Australians have been coming to Jackson for years and we have a close connection with this key destination visitor; we deeply empathize with what the country is going through as these destructive fires impact people and wildlife,” said JHMR Vice President of Brand Tyler LaMotte.  “As Australia Day approaches we have our Australian friends in our thoughts, and are happy that we can make a contribution to the relief efforts.”

Buckrail @ Shannon

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter. She just completed a master's in journalism from Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.