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Twins Do Their Part for Australia Fires

By Oscar Barnes


Sometimes the smallest things can push someone to take action. For juniors Ethan and Justin Stangenes, a meeting with Alfie, a two-foot tall, 11-pound wallaby that they met while vacationing in Australia provided that push. For the twins, this trip was just supposed to be a special memory. But when they heard about the recent bushfires, they sprung into action.

Over the course of several weeks, they raised $5,000 in donations from students and faculty, sending the money to nonprofit organizations such as WIRES NSW, the CFS Foundation, and the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network. The money will be distributed to rehabilitation efforts for the animals affected by the fires. The money is also being used to help volunteer firefighters whose efforts have been crucial to the containment of the fires, along with their families and the families of those who have been impacted by the fires.

“We were devastated when we heard about [the fires,]” Ethan said.

In fact, the resort they stayed in during their time on Kangaroo Island, an island just south of Australia but still under its jurisdiction, was burned down by the bushfires. 

“…[T]hat’s what really got us motivated to do this,” Justin said.

After hearing about all of the damage, the twins began to take action. However, it is not so simple to kickstart a large project like this.

“When we first started, it was going kind of slow,” Ethan said.

After two failed attempts with contacting popular Fortnite YouTuber Muselk and the Los Altos Town Crier, the twins spread news of the event through word of mouth. However, Ethan and Justin soon had their lucky break.

“[Biology teacher Monica] Ventrice talked to me and [asked] ‘Have you talked to [Pinewood Director of Communications] Katy Wells, yet?’ and we were like ‘no,’ ” Ethan said.

Wells helped the twins set up a page on Veracross that displayed what their mission was to the entire school. From then on, donations kept piling up, and the $2,000 Jar Wars goal as well as the $3,000 MyCause campaign goal were quickly met.