As bushfires raged around them, the ladies of the Australian Islamic Centre felt compelled to help out their community.
The group from Newport, Victoria, a suburb of Melbourne, filled five trucks full of donated supplies and raised $1,500 in only 48 hours. They traveled, along with other volunteers, more than four hours to distribute the supplies to victims, according to Rashid Elhouli, who oversees online public relations for the Australian Islamic Centre.
They didn’t stop there.
When they arrived to Johnsonville, the ladies cooked breakfast for 150 firefighters.
“[I] extend the thanks from the fire affected areas,” Rodney Baylis, a Johnsvonville firefighter, is heard telling the group in a video posted on Facebook. “I just been on the phone to the captain down there and he nearly broke into tears when I told him what we are bringing in for them today.”
Firefighters in Australia have been working tirelessly for the past several months to battle the bushfires ravaging the country. More than 2,000 homes have been destroyed or damaged this fire season in New South Wales, according to the state’s Rural Fire Service.
The Australian Islamic Centre started making plans to help out on Thursday after speaking to the Melbourne Fire Brigade, according to Elhouli.
They used social media to get the word out that the center was collecting supplies such as female hygiene products, water bottles, milk, baby wipes, and fresh fruit. On Friday after prayer service, the center hosted a sausage sizzle, selling plates of food to raise money for the bushfire victims. The event was originally scheduled as a fundraiser for their youth program.
“The money was meant to go towards girls youth activities,” said Elhouli. “But they decided to donate it all to the bushfire appeal.”
Early Saturday morning, the caravan of five truck filled with donations embarked on its journey. After feeding the firefighters, the volunteers were escorted by the Melbourne Fire Brigade to different areas to offload the items.
“Our team set up another cookout and called all to eat,” Elhouli told CNN. “They had a variety of meals, including lamb kebab, chicken kebab, beef sausages and mince meat.”
Acts of kindness, including images of people giving water to koalas and waiting in a line over an hour to donate to the food bank, have been shared across social media. Australian comedian Celeste Barber has raised more than $26 million in under a week to her Facebook fundraiser.