If you live in New York, you might see something slightly out of the ordinary on your commute home today: stuffed koalas hanging off the city’s trees, lampposts and poles.
As Australia’s largest-ever bushfire continues to burn, the New York office of Cummins&Partners—an independent agency headquartered in Melbourne, Australia—is sending love to its colleagues from afar by encouraging donations to help the country’s devastated wildlife population. More than 1 billion animals have died there as a result of the fires.
On Friday, the Cummins&Partners team took to the streets of the city to place koalas at locations including Times Square, Washington Square Park, Grand Central and Columbus Circle. Those who stumble upon one of the plush toys will find a QR code directing them to a GoFundMe page where they can donate to the Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service, Australia’s largest wildlife rescue organization.
Cummins&Partners has created a dedicated Instagram for the effort called Koalas of NYC, which is encouraging people to tag the account and post pictures whenever they spot one of the koala toys around the city.
“Our team at Cummins&Partners NYC are absolutely devastated and wanted to help in some way from across the pond instead of feeling helpless,” said Diane Villavieja, who oversees operations at the agency. “Our agency has Australian roots and more than half of our team are Australian, so we are taking action and helping our furry friends back home, all the way from NYC.”
Villavieja said the idea was discussed in a recent morning meeting, and following “swift CEO approval” the agency devised artwork, set up social platforms, organized the fundraising effort and placed 100 koalas around the city, all within 72 hours.
“While implementing this project, we were met by a variety of locals and tourists who were emotionally invested in the courage and mateship of the Australian people and how they are doing all they can to save their country and the precious native flora and fauna that calls Down Under home,” she said.
“From hugs, tears, beaming smiles and donations, the people of NYC responded in the best way possible. Most onlookers had no idea that over a billion animals have been affected, including those that already face extinction.”