ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s a move in New Mexico to help the wildlife crisis caused by raging wildfires in Australia. Local crafters are getting creative and putting their talents to work, crocheting, knitting and sewing.
The bushfires are ravaging millions of acres in Australia. It’s estimated now that as many as a billion animals have been killed or displaced in the fires. Those lucky enough to have survived are without their homes, badly burned or even orphaned.
The tragedy is inspiring people around the world to help any way they can. In New Mexico, some locals are making things to help these animals during their recovery.
“I belong to a bunch of different Facebook crochet groups and somebody posted on there if anybody wanted to be a part of making things for the animals in Australia, here was the website to go to, and it’s called the Animal Rescue Crafters Guild,” said Barbara Brown. “When I saw that they were mobilizing for all the animals, considering how many have died and how many are injured, that’s something I can do.”
Through social media, Brown found the craft groups looking for people to make things like bat wraps, bird boxes, koala mittens and joey pouches. She immediately pulled out her crocheting needles and yarn.
“These are for the little baby kangaroos and wallabies, and they’re just called joey sacks,” said Brown. “There are other crafters who are actually making the linings for these. They will be assembled in Australia.”
Tabitha Leslie is also a crafter, owning a small business for it. She says it was a no-brainer breaking out her sewing needles and fabric.
“Since I was young, I’ve loved animals and I’ve worked with animals,” said Leslie. “I saw what they really need right now are some kangaroo pouches. They’re really easy to make. Anybody can make them.”
Following online guides, they say there are items anyone can help with. For those unable to sew or crochet, even just donating the materials or money for postage can help.
“There’s so many things you can make, there’s pouches,” said Brown. “If you go to the website under the file section, it’ll give you all the patterns you may need, whether you sew, knit or crochet.”
In the online craft groups, “hubs” are listed where volunteers will receive the handmade items from nearby crafters, whether they’re hand-delivered or shipped domestically. Those volunteers will then send larger shipments of the collected items directly to relief organizations in Australia.
“The guild is in direct communication with all of the people who are taking care and rehabilitating these animals,” said Brown. “We get instant feedback from them on everything we need.”
Brown and Leslie say they’re happy to get involved and use their skills to help. They also say it’s inspiring to see people across the world coming together to help.
“It’s nice to see that people care,” said Leslie. “You see the good in people in a disaster.”
Anyone wishing to use their craft skills to help can head to the Facebook group American Rescue Crafters Connect. In the files section of the page are patterns and outlines for making many of the items. There are also resources for finding materials, as well as locating your local “hub” contact to ship the items to. There is also a graphic explaining what items are desperately needed (i.e. joey pouches, hanging pouches and animal beds) as well as what items they have plenty of for the time being (i.e. koala mittens and bat wraps with a pillow).
NASA just released satellite images of the popular tourist Kangaroo Island. It’s located off the mainland of South Australia and is home to sea lions, koalas and many species of endangered birds. The NASA images show so far, the fires have burned through about a third of the island.
Around 20 million acres have burned since the fires started in September. Experts estimate they could continue burning for months.