SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — From across the world, volunteers in western Massachusetts are crafting for a good cause — making unique mittens, pouches, and blankets for Australia’s wildlife as brushfires continue to devastate parts of the country.
University of Sydney Professor Chris Dickman estimates that 480 million animals have been affected by the fires.
“Many of the affected animals are likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the depletion of food and shelter resources and predation from introduced feral cats and red foxes,” Dickman said.
Facebook has connected thousands of people, like Leah Ferreira from Palmer, through a group called American Rescue Crafters Connect.
“I saw that people from all over the United States were making these little pouches for the animals and I said ‘oh my god,’ I can do that, even our kids can do that,” Ferreira said.
Ferreira, owner of Are You Stitchin’ Me, usually crafts iced coffee cozies out of her Palmer home, but over the next few days she’ll refocus her creative energy to make some of the items needed the most, according to Australia’s Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild:
And she’s got four helpers! Her daughters, Vivian, Olivia, Vera, and Ophelia have also been hard at work making pouches for the animals in need.
“We live on two acres, and we have three dogs, so we love animals,” the mother of four said. “We love watching all the deer and stuff around us so it was only natural for us to want to help.”
The family plans on making at least 20 joey pouches of all sizes to help out koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, and even tiny sugar gliders.
How to get involved
In just two days, the Facebook group has grown to include nearly 15,000 members from around the U.S. If you want to help out, first you have to join the group at ‘American Rescue Crafters Connect.’
From there, click ‘Files’ and you’ll find tutorials on how to make the items needed by Australian animal rescue organizations. You’ll also be able to find your region’s contact through the file named ‘HUBs for American Rescue Crafters,’ so that you can coordinate where to mail your crafted items.
“If you’re not crafty, if you don’t want to sew they even have a donation thing, where you can donate money to help people ship these supplies, or buy bandages, because I know they need bandages, they need water, they need a ton of stuff to help these animals and people too,” Ferreira added.
Send photos of your crafted items to ReportIt@wwlp.com!