Remember when Celeste Barber started a fundraiser for bushfire victims? And remember when it ended up collecting $52 million donations from all around the world?
Yeah, well that money is currently off-limits while lawyers for both Barber and the NSW Rural Fire Service meet to un-stick the red tape that’s holding it down.
Basically, nothing has been spent from the money pool because of conflicts in RFS rules and Celeste’s wishes.
The fundraiser was initially just for the NSW RFS, which meant the money was being funneled directly into the RFS Trust. However, the overwhelming global support – from over one million donors – meant Celeste could comfortably broaden her donation horizon.
Now, the hope is to split the money amongst charities and organisations assisting bushfire-affected families and towns. But she can’t.
RFS rules stipulate that all financial donations must be spent on firefighting equipment and volunteer training. Families and other charities don’t apply.
So until this legal knot is untied, the money is going nowhere.
But the RFS are on-board with Celeste’s wishes to spread the good-will. Ben Shepherd, an RFS spokesperson said both teams are working together to unpick the legal lock.
“No one is being bad about this, it’s all very amicable, and we will try and see her wishes through,” he told The Sunday Telegraph.
But, he said, as the RFS is the originally listed beneficiary, they can’t donate the money donated to them to others.
And some people are really bloody mad that they’re trying to re-distribute the money.
I knew this would happen. I have asked before, why the victims weren’t getting any money to rebuild or even just a set amount of money per family. There was certainly enough to go around
— Sherree Johnston (@JohnstonSherree) February 16, 2020
Can i apply to have my money refunded. This is ridiculous
— Wegz (@wegz83) February 16, 2020
Theres nothing to dispute she stated where donations were to go RFS
— TraceyG (@bozza1970) February 16, 2020
it’s an unprecedented amount of money so there’s no experience in handling this amount. all charities have rules (some are dodgy) it does look like all sides are doing their best to resolve it to everyone’s satisfaction. It’s certainly not like the Red Cross’s approach
— Paul Feasey (@feasey_paul) February 16, 2020
Give them a break, it’s not like she anticipated the little FB fundraiser would cop $52 million.
Why can’t we celebrate the fact that the world managed to raise that much for a single cause? I’d say it’s only fair that they share the money around – and if everyone’s happy to do it, why not?
There have been plenty of other fundraisers and solo donations made to the RFS over the last few months, so Celeste’s money wasn’t the only charitable offering made.
And not every lawyer is a money-hungry monster – no matter how much Suits or other legal dramas you watch – so give them a break too.
Let’s hope both parties can get this money out to the right people quick-smart.
Image Sources: Instagram (@celestebarber), Twitter (@celstebarber_).