Leo Sykes with Nana, Carole Wheeler, fundraising for koalas. PHOTOS/KAREN COLTMAN

KAREN COLTMAN
karen.coltman@age.co.nz

A Carterton child was so upset hearing about the koalas killed and injured in the Australian bush fires, that he decided to do something about it.

Leo Sykes, 8, has been painting koalas on stones to sell for a koha which he will give to Helping you Help Animals [HUHA].

HUHA has deployed a team of volunteer vets, vet nurses, builders, and other support people to Australia to assist with the bushfires.

So far, Leo has painted nearly 200 rocks, and sales from his painted koala rocks have raised nearly $1000.

Over the years, Leo’s family garden has become decorated with colourful, painted stones because Leo and his sister Evelyn like painting stones, so they decided to paint more and sell them.

“I felt upset and helpless, I needed to do something to help,” Leo said.

“I asked mum if I could sell my toys but she said no and so I decided to paint some more rocks.”

“Nana traced out the koala bear shape and we colour them in, then Nana coats them with resin.

“We sell them for a koha.”

During the summer school holidays, Leo got up early many mornings and started painting.

Some days he was up and out at the front of 20 Hornsby St with his stall of ‘pet-rocks’ by 7am.

The midwives and nurses the family know have bought plenty of the rocks.

“People driving past have come down the road, hopped out to look, driven away and come back with coins to buy the rocks,” his nana Carole Wheeler said.

“So many people are moved by the wildlife injured by the fires and want to help.”

More than one billion creatures have been killed in the Australian fires so far.