MILWAUKEE -- Since September 2019, Australia has seen its worst wildfires in decades, exacerbated by a prolonged drought and record temperatures. More than 44 million acres of bush, land, and forest have been burned. At least 28 people have died and around 3,000 homes have been destroyed. Lakefront Brewery on Sunday, Feb. 23 hosted a fundraiser in an effort to help.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday, Feb. 20 announced a royal commission into the deadly fires, focused on "practical action" to improve Australia's preparedness for natural disasters and future bushfire seasons. He previously set up a National Bushfire Recovery Agency to coordinate the response to rebuilding communities, and allocated $1.4 billion in federal aid to help rebuild vital infrastructure like schools and health facilities struck by fire.
"We just need to help those people out," said John Doyle, a tour leader at Lakefront Brewery. "It's just horrible."
All fires in the Australian state of New South Wales were declared contained for the first time this season as of Feb. 13. Officials said the months of fires affected up to one billion animals.
Torrential rainfall helped extinguish more than 30 fires in New South Wales but also brought major flooding.
Doyle said those at Lakefront Brewery wanted to pour up a way to help.
"We have the Bushfire Relief all week long," said Doyle. "Everyone can come in and get a $3 tap of either our Riverwest Stein or IPA, and Lakefront Brewery is nice enough to match that $3 donation to the bushfire relief."
Customers showed their support as soon as the doors opened Sunday morning. For Kristen Kell, it was personal.
"I think it's really sad," said Kell. "A number of years back, I did travel to Australia for a period of time, and that's when I grew fond of the koala bear. Anything that we can do to help them, whether it's raising money for the wildlife, refugees like that in Australia."
It's not uncommon for Lakefront Brewery to tap into relief efforts. The Resilience Beer project, a craft beer-centric campaign to help impacted communities begin the healing process through regeneration and rehabilitation first surfaced in response to the 2018 California Camp Fire, but returned with an aim to send support to Australia.
"We felt like it was our duty to kind of help out," said Doyle.
The fundraising effort at Lakefront Brewery runs until Feb. 29. For more information about the Resilience Beer Project, CLICK HERE.