Updated: Jan 7
Monetary donations can often be one of the most useful ways to help services like charities, fire brigades and animal rescue
Charities like Givit can help facilitate the distribution of material goods, while avoiding the donation of unwanted, random items
People are encouraged not to drop donated items off to affected areas as this can sometimes hamper efforts
Before donating make sure items have not reached their use by dates
Lives have been lost, homes and business have been destroyed and thousands of people are stranded or in limbo as fires burn in parts of Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.
But when you're in the fortunate position to give back, is it worth it to reach into your cupboard for those unused items? Or is a cash donation the more effective option?
The needs of first responders and victims are great and varied and it's the services and charities on the frontline who are best placed to know what is needed and where.
That's why monetary donations can often be one of the most useful ways to help.
How Bentleigh is helping
One of our Bentleigh FNC community members is officially collecting for the Bayside Emergency relief pg and 3165 East Bentleigh pg who are in constant contact with Gippsland Emergency relief
The following list is items that she is allowed to accept. Nothing else can be donated.
If you are interested in directly donating you can drop anything off here: 23 Hinkler ave.
The public response is beyond belief. People within the Bentleigh community have been working tirelessly to support Victorians affected by the bushfires and so far they have sent away thousands of donations. Firefighters have passed on their thanks to the community commenting how handy the snack packs are.
Guys, we are overwhelmed, our hearts are bursting with the kindness of everyone over the last few days. Bk2Basics is at capacity as is their extra storage that they have organised for today. Thanks to the generosity of the community, we’ve got a place to store everything until Narre Warren re-opens.
Bk2Basics Melbourne have kindly donated their space to use as a workshop for the thoughtful community, using this as a donation point for people across the south east.
Many have gladly donated items such as a possum box that can be used to help wildlife caught up in these bushfires.
Where can you donate?
For those with money to give, donations to the Salvation Army, the Australian Red Cross and state-based brigades like the NSW Rural Fire Service will go towards bushfire relief.
People overseas are also able to donate through the channel.
The Red Cross say, while they are heartened by incredible tokens of kindness and generosity — as people offer foods, clothes and open up their homes — they are not in a position to take and distribute these items.
"Our experience with emergencies shows that donations of money, where possible, help affected communities recover sooner,"
"This is because people can make their own choices — including purchasing the goods they need for their own families."
The Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR) is also raising money to support affected communities through grants to local not-for-profit groups, running community-led projects.
"It could be support for fatigued volunteer leaders, repairing vital community infrastructure or ensuring psychological support is available when it is most needed," FRRR said on its website.
What items are needed now?
A family who has lost everything twice, a firefighter's property and a heavily pregnant young mum are some of those asking for help through the portal.
With many homes in regional areas, items like fencing and pumps are on the wish list, but grocery vouchers and even a family-sized tent are all needed by fire victims in northern New South Wales and Queensland.
The best way to know what people need is to check updated lists and portals online. The needs of the community are constantly changing however some things will always be needed e.g. water, socks for firefighters and pouches for injured animals.
Supporting animal rescue
Again, cash donations are a good place to start, but there is also a need for physical items.
Possum boxes, pellets for livestock and native animal milk replacer are among the items on the RSPCA's wish list for its bushfire donation drive.
If it is uncomfortable for a human to breathe, then it will be uncomfortable for pets too
"If you are home, shut your pets inside the house to limit harm from smoke inhalation and so they are close by to exit with you once the danger has passed,
RSPCA NSW said that included animals such as birds, guinea pigs, rabbits, cats, dogs, mice, rats, ferrets and reptiles.
Here are some tips if you come across injured wildlife on the road.
Can you volunteer your time?
The Red Cross says it does not send volunteers into emergency situations unless they've passed checks and completed training.
While you might not be able to volunteer immediately, the charity welcomed people to apply for the future.
It's a similar story for volunteering to care for injured animals.
If you are close to affected areas, you might like to check local community Facebook pages to see if you can be of help in other ways.