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Comedian Celeste Barber raises $32 million for Australia wildfire relief, breaking Facebook's fundraising record

A fundraiser by Australian comedian Celeste Barber has raised more than $32 million (about $46 million Australian dollars) for wildfire relief. It's the most money ever raised in Facebook's fundraising history, Facebook told CBS News.

Millions of acres have burned since the fires began in September, destroying about 2,000 homes and killing at least 25 people. In addition, wildlife experts estimate more than 1 billion animals have been killed by the unprecedented fires spreading across the continent.

Over 1.2 million people have donated to Barber's fundraiser, which she started on January 2 with the words: "Please help anyway you can. This is terrifying." The money is going towards the Trustee for the New South Wales Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund. 

"This is incredible," Barber tweeted Saturday. "Power to the people." 

According to Facebook, donations have come from 75 countries, and over 19,000 fundraisers have been created for 250 organizations supporting the relief efforts.

New South Wales has faced more destruction than any other region. In its most recent update, the NSW Rural Fire Service said 127 fires were burning in NSW alone, with 56 still to be contained. 

According to the fire service, donations directly benefit local volunteer firefighters and their communities. 

This is our war," Barber's mother-in-law, Joy Robin, said in a video after she was told to evacuate her home. "This fire is Australia's war… We've been abandoned," she said, criticizing Prime Minister Scott Morrison, whose response to the crisis left many residents angry. 

My mother in law. Joy Robin.

Posted by Celeste Barber on Sunday, January 5, 2020

Celebrities donate to wildfire relief 

"Hey billionaires, Notre Dame burning down sucked. I get it. Times that by a trillion and that's what's happening in Australia," Barber tweeted Tuesday. "Feel free to flick us a quick couple of million. You make it seem pretty easy."

Many celebrities have come forward in recent weeks to support evacuees, firefighters and wildlife in Australia. 

  • Kylie Minogue and her family donated $500,000 "towards the immediate firefighting efforts and the ongoing support which will be required."
  • Pink pledged $500,000 directly to the local fire services that are battling so hard on the frontlines.
  • At his Sydney show, Elton John, pledged $1 million dollars to support the Bushfire Relief Fund.
  • Dacre Montgomery has raised more than $330,000 to support the Australian Red Cross through GoFundMe.

How to help

As Australia attempts to battle this unprecedented national crisis, organizations need all the help they can get. See a full list of organizations supporting evacuees, firefighters and wildlife here

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