Whitman Students Raise Money for Animals Hurt in Australian Wildfires

By Superintendent Jeffrey Szymaniak February 6, 2020

Superintendent Jeffrey Szymaniak is pleased to announce that a group of students at the John H. Duval Elementary School have raised hundreds of dollars to help animals injured by the recent Australian wildfires.

Second graders Colin Gillespie, Michael Griffin, Thomas Ottina and Nathan Roderick, encouraged by their teacher Barbara Tilley, approached school administrators last month and brainstormed possible ideas for a fundraiser.

At a school-wide assembly on Friday, Jan. 24, the group informed fellow students that on the following Friday they would be able to wear a hat to school for a $1 donation. The money would be donated to Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors, a group helping to rehabilitate animals injured by the wildfires.

To promote citizenship and responsibility, the school encouraged students to do an extra chore at home to earn the $1 for the donation.

The fundraiser was met with great enthusiasm at the assembly, and on Friday, Jan. 31, the students collected $416.67 through the drive. The group used the school's intercom to make a school-wide announcement to share the good news.

Superintendent Szymaniak and Assistant Superintendent George Ferro stopped by the school last Friday to meet the student organizers and congratulate them on the success of the drive.

“These students showed great initiative by organizing this fundraiser, and even gave up lunches and recess to work on the project and count the money that was raised,” Principal Darlene Foley said. “We are proud of the whole Duval school community for coming together to raise money for such a worthy cause.”

According to estimates from the World Wildlife Fund in Australia, well over 1.5 billion animals have died or have been injured as part of the wildfires.

About the Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors

The Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors was established in 2002, initially by Steve and Terri Irwin, as a way bring together caring people to support the protection of injured, threatened or endangered wildlife. To learn more, or to donate, visit