The Fernie Hotel hosted the Australian Bushfire Appeal Fundraiser on Sunday night. Soranne Floarea/The Free Press

Fernie Hotel supports through bushfire fundraiser

Sunday Funday at The Fernie raised thousands for Australian Bushfire Relief

On Sunday, the Fernie Hotel held a spirited fundraising event to raise money for the bushfires that continue to devastate Australia. Sitting in stark opposition to the severity of the cause, the night was filled with an air of hope.

Lively music, vivacious dancing, and donations by the fistful buzzed through the room. The Fernie raised a grand total of $6,786 at the event. Approximately $2,500 of that total comes from donated tips from the kitchen staff, servers and bartenders. On top of that, the Fernie Hotel owners topped up the fund with an additional $1,250.

The money raised is being donated to the National Australian Bushfire Fund.

“We researched into a lot of different foundations and charities,” said event manager, Tess Arnold. “We wanted to ensure we found a fund that was distributing funds nationwide, as so many different regions across Australia have been impacted and the local representation of Australians in Fernie comes from all across the country. We knew it was important for people to have the opportunity to contribute to the places that matter most to them.”

In the wake of Australia’s driest and hottest year on record, bushfires have been raging through the country since late July. They have burned over 17.9 million acres, roughly 5,365 times the size of Fernie. They have set over 2,000 homes ablaze, forced 250,000 people to evacuate their homes, and taken the lives of at least 28 people and over one billion animals, bringing some close to extinction.

“As an Australian living across the other side of the world, it has been really difficult experiencing the effects of this crisis from so far away,” said Arnold on the feeling of powerlessness that many other Australians living in Fernie mirror. “It is hard to deal with the emotions of helplessness and guilt in feeling that you can’t make a difference because of proximity to the issue…I knew that I had to do something to raise funds and provide a platform for others to do the same.”

Whether you came out for one sausage or stayed till close, every dollar collected on Sunday represents the optimism and solidarity of a community that binds together to support those in need.

For anyone who couldn’t attend Sunday’s festivities or want to donate more to the efforts, the National Bushfire Appeal also accepts direct contributions online through their website.

Alternatively, there are many other charities and organizations collecting funds to support the relief efforts. Several other businesses throughout town are also accepting donations, including Valley Social, Big Bang Bagels, and more. Arnold urges the public to do their research before giving, in order to ensure donations go where they are intended.

Lastly, the Fernie Hotel would like to extend an astronomical thank you to everyone who helped make the night a success, including manager Alicia Dennis–who initially jumped at the idea of a fundraiser–as well as all of their staff.

A special thanks to musicians Isabel Enks, Charlie Roy, Jim Paul, and Max Thomson for their melodic contributions, as well as Evolution Health & Fitness, GearHub, Fernie Alpine Resort, Jorin from Thunder Meadows, and Fernie Distillery for donating prizes.

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