After learning about the widespread damage the raging wildfires were causing across Australia, Jessa Trotman says she immediately wanted to help.

As Trotman and her husband, Gerald, read articles about the fires, they were particularly moved by the plight of Australia’s koala population. Because they are slow moving, the cuddly marsupials have been dramatically affected by the fires.

“We are huge animal lovers,” said Trotman, who has a Great Dane, parrot and kitten. “We felt like we had to do something.”

Trotman said since the tragedy is happening so far away, the best way for her to help was by selling T-shirts incorporating her artwork and donating the proceeds to relief efforts. Trotman is an artist and the owner of Dear Alchemy, which is located in the Southern Hotel on Main Street in Elizabeth City.

“Our motto is do good things,” Trotman said.

Trotman immediately conducted research on the Australian fires, scanning articles online that included heart-wrenching photographs. She said she was in tears as she began sketching the koala bear that she used for a design on T-shirts.

The shirts are selling for $20, plus shipping, and all funds raised benefit the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital GoFundMe page.

“They are really helping the koalas,” said Trotman.

The shirts may be purchased online at https://dearalchemy.bigcartel.com. Shirts can be shipped to the buyer’s home for a fee or buyers can use the local code for free local pickup at Dear Alchemy.

Trotman said the shirts, which for both children and adults, range in size from 2T to 4XL, and come in a variety of color choices, each with the same koala design by Trotman. Her shop’s name, Dear Alchemy, is located at the bottom of the “Save the Koalas” design, and like with all her other creations, Trotman has hidden her signature, JKT, in the design.

Trotman said she’s seen entire families purchase the shirts. “It feels good that everyone wants to help,” she said.

Trotman also plans to create more designs to help benefit other animal wildlife affected by the fires.

Trotman grew up in Camden and graduated from Perquimans County High School where she met Gerald, who does graphic design and screen printing. The couple now live in Elizabeth City with their two children.

Drawing since she was able to hold a pencil, Trotman said she was encouraged by her parents to pursue art and her husband inspires her every day.

“You create when you are true to yourself,” she said.

Trotman said Dear Alchemy sells a line of apparel featuring her designs. She also creates logos and designs for businesses. Most recently she painted a mural on the side of the Albemarle Floral building, also known as the Lighthouse building, in Elizabeth City’s downtown.

For more information about the Save the Koalas T-shirts, visit the Dear Alchemy Facebook page.