Kimba gets behind Elsa's Kangaroo Island fundraiser

HELPING OUT: Kimba CFS Brigade captain Trevor Clifford with Elsa Whitwell and 'Dusty,' the Koala the brigade has adopted.

HELPING OUT: Kimba CFS Brigade captain Trevor Clifford with Elsa Whitwell and 'Dusty,' the Koala the brigade has adopted.

A five-year-old Kimba resident has set the town abuzz in the past week with her creative efforts to raise funds for koalas affected in the Australian bushfires.

Animal enthusiast Elsa Whitwell has raised hundreds of dollars in less than a week as her local community throws support behind her idea.

Fires across Australia over the past several months have caused significant loss of wildlife across the country.

On Kangaroo Island, known for its thriving and disease-free koala population, fires burning a third of the island have caused significant losses and locals are expecting a long rehabilitation journey.

Elsa's mother Alyce said the family were listening to radio coverage on the national bushfire emergency when the plight of Australia's koalas was mentioned.

Mrs Whitwell said Elsa's ears "pricked up" at the news, and she decided she wanted to help.

The five-year-old opened up her pocket money jar and sent it all to New South Wales wildlife charity WIRES, but her generosity did not stop there.

On the weekend she began making koalas out of paper plates and paint, for members of the community to 'adopt' for $5.

Elsa said she wanted to help the wildlife, especially the "soft and cuddly" koalas, one of her favourite animals.

Mrs Whitwell said the initiative spiraled from there, with members of the community approaching them on the street to buy a koala or simply offering to donate.

In the first few days they had made over 60 koalas.

"We started off making 20 and it just got bigger and bigger," Mrs Whitwell said.

CREATIVE: Elsa Whitwell with a stack of koalas ready for adoption. Photo: Supplied.

CREATIVE: Elsa Whitwell with a stack of koalas ready for adoption. Photo: Supplied.

Elsa has not been doing the work alone, with local child care worker Jody Westhoff getting the students at her day care to help out.

Mrs Whitwell said many buyers were paying well above the $5 rate for their koalas, and local businesses were also donating including the newsagency which had been providing painting supplies.

"It's definitely blown our minds," she said.

Mrs Whitwell said Elsa could not quite comprehend the scale of what she had put in motion.

"She definitely doesn't understand how much money has been raised."

One of the donations even came from overseas, with a family friend from England deciding to get involved.

While the Eyre Peninsula has been mainly spared from the devastation seen elsewhere, local Kimba CFS volunteers have still had a busy month, with lightning sparking a fire at Miltalie on December 30 which burned for several days.

To throw their support behind Elsa's efforts, the Kimba brigade has adopted a paper koala of their own, named Dusty.

Brigade captain Trevor Clifford said the koala would have a home at the CFS shed.

"Dusty will sit up here in the station for everyone to see," he said.

"It's fantastic, it's certainly a good thing to to happen to support other communities that need help."

Mrs Whitwell said she was unsure how many funds had been raised, but she believed they were approaching $1000 midway through the week.

"I haven't counted yet because it's still streaming in," she said.

She said the funds would go directly to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network, volunteers tasked with rescuing and rehabilitating injured wildlife.

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