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Ohio students' letter to 'hurt koalas' in Australia goes viral

Ohio students' letter to 'hurt koalas' in Australia goes viral
First-grade students in Marion, Ohio wrote a letter to the injured koalas in Australia during the massive bushfires. (Marion City School District)

MARION, Ohio (WBNS) — An act of kindness coming from Ohio is being felt halfway across the world — and it's going viral.

According to the Marion City School District, a first-grade class at McKinley Elementary School wanted to do something to help when they learned about the devastating wildfires in Australia.

"It started because I saw the story about Lewis the koala on Facebook,” Cathy Bell said in a news release. "A woman pulled him off a tree and started giving him water and he was taken to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital. I followed it and told the kids about that and the bushfires. They were very concerned."

The class got to work on writing a card to send to Australia. Students signed it by coloring in koala bears to attach to it.

The goal was to send the letter all the way to Australia, but that could have its challenges.

"They asked when it would get there and I told them we didn't know because the fires were still burning," Bell said. She arrived at the post office on Jan. 6 to send the letter, according to the district.

But after several days, the Koala Hospital Port Macquarie in New South Wales, Australia, received the note of compassion from the Ohio city over 9,000 miles away.

The hospital was so moved by the gesture, they posted it to Facebook, where it has been shared more than 5,000 times.

"This has just arrived in the mail and has really brightened our day. How beautiful is this," they wrote.

"It's been unreal," Bell said. "I didn't know when they would receive it and (Jan. 15) we had a two-hour delay. When I saw the Port Macquarie page come up with our letter, I was aghast. My principal got an email, I've gotten five emails and an Australian woman called, despite the fact it was midnight there, to say thank you."

That's not all the kids at McKinley Elementary did. The school district said from Jan. 13 to Jan. 17, students and staff were encouraged to wear different themed outfits for a small donation. The proceeds were sent to Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

On top of it all, the district said its students learned a lot from all that they did.

"This has covered a lot of different things," Bell said. "From writing to learning where Australia is on the map and what kind of animals live there, to learning about firefighters and everything they're doing."