By Carmela Maraan Fernando
Photos by Anni Grindrod (Animal Rescue Craft Guild on Facebook) and Lori T. Kinch (Rescue Craft on Facebook)
As a crafter, your labor of love can also be labor of life.
Sewing and crafting groups across the world have been banding together to make custom protective gear for injured wildlife who have lost their homes to the recent rampant Australian wildfires. Some of these supplies include crocheted and knitted pouches for sleeping in, mittens and bandages for injured koalas and kangaroos, blankets amd bedding for carrying and swaddling, boxes for possums, mini-diapers for babies separated from their mothers, and even tiny nests for displaced birds and their offspring.
Australia-baded rescue operation Animal Rescue Craft Guild (ARCG) sent out a call for materials, as well as volunteers for the movement. Donations of handmade goods came pouring in, so much that a large storage unit had to be rented so the group can keep up with the sheer volume of contributions.
As there are volunteers for crafting the much-needed items, additional volunteers have also been hired to sort the unexpected influx of fabric goods to keep animal refugees cozy. In fact, the response has been so great that the requests for contributions to gauze bandages and medication.
The Philippine Rescue Crafters for Australia Bushfires Facebook group is actively looking for avid creators who will sew, knit, crochet, and craft cozy supplies for Australian wildfire rescues. Recommended materials are natural or natural with acryllic thread, yarn, or fabric, all of which are breathable and comfortable to theor users.
If you’re interested in making and sending your own work to the rescue efforts, simply search for and join the group. Aside from tips on crafting and overall support for interested volunteers, the members also offer free patterns and guidelines for making teardrop and circular nests, joey pouches, bags, baby bat packs, koala mittens, wraps and square blankets, and hammocks. You might have a few nifty patterns to share with the team!
Relief efforts are still ongoing. And, don’t wory if you can only make one blanket, one wrap, or one pair of mittens. It only takes your hands, a bit of yarn or fabric, and a couple of hours from your day to save a precious and endangered life.
So far, the blazes killed 25 people. They’ve destroyed about one-third of Kangaroo Island, home to several native protected species. The destruction has also spread to several other parts of the country, razing a total of 2,000 homes and an unprecedented amount of endemic wildlife. NASA and the European Space Agency are continuing to monitor wildlife activity from space to observe their effects on the environment and relation to climate change.
This is why crafters are badly needed – each snuggly creation is an emergency home for the wildfire survivors.
Many of the donations have come from locations as far as France, Hong Kong, Britain, Germany, and the USA. And, there’s also a dedicated initiative from the Philippines that aims to contribute to the efforts.
Before deliverong your work to the group, all crocheted, knitted, and fabric handicrafts must be ‘naturally washed’ – that is, cleaned eith gentle substances. Some recommended cleaninh agents are: vinegar and baking soda, plant-based unscented laundry product, or unscented infant-friendly laundry detergent without fabric softener. Injured animals, particularly those recovering from burns, have very sensitive skin.
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