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Richmond woman 'overwhelmed' by koala bear blanket response

People can donate until Friday to Kate Marie Harvey's campaign to help stricken animals in fire-ravaged Australia

“When I see the videos of animals suffering, it breaks my heart.”

Kate Marie Harvey is having a hard time watching footage of koala bears and kangaroos suffering and dying in their thousands in fire-ravaged Australia.

And it seems in Richmond at least, she’s not alone.

Moved by the harrowing images, Harvey felt she had to do something and pounced on a Facebook post asking people to donate blankets to make mittens for koalas and pouches for joeys (baby kangaroos).

She had hoped to collect a few and ship them on a flight with the help of a flight attendant relative.

But within a few hours of posting her own appeal on Facebook community group Richmond Rants Raves & Rapport, Harvey was “overwhelmed” by the response.

“I thought it was just going to be a handful,” laughed Harvey, as she helped unload one of 35 garbage bags full of blankets at Platinum Pro Claim’s east Richmond warehouse on Friday.

“I had the idea of getting just get 20; I think that would help. But the response I’ve had has been amazing. We’ve gotten hundreds.

“I love animals and when tragedy strikes, most of the attention is based on humans. I feel, as compassionate people who share the planet with animals, we should also take care of them as well.”

Harvey quickly realized she needed help dealing with the volume of donations and that’s when called her friend, Ky Scott, whose father, Tony, owns and operates Platinum Pro Claim.

“Tony loves doing things for the Richmond community; he loves the environment and when I asked for help, he was amazing,” said Harvey.

“He’s given me the warehouse space, he’s donated a van for me to drive around and collect the blankets, he’s having the blankets cleaned here and is helping me with shipping costs, as are Design Tech Hair Studio, Pro Smith Customs and the Dinnell Real Estate Group.”

Harvey’s plan is to have the blankets cleaned up, boxed and shipped to a 7,000-member sewing club at the other side of Canada, where they’re making items for the animals and sending them to Australia.

“I do a lot with the community and didn’t hesitate to help. That’s what we do,” Tony told the Richmond News, adding that his company has specialized equipment to clean the blankets and wrap them up.

“It’s great to see the community coming together and feel like we’re doing something.”

Platinum Pro Claim, at 13880 Mayfield Pl. (close to No. 6 and Cambie roads) is accepting donations of blankets, pillowcases, sheets and towels at reception until Friday, Jan. 17.