Australian bushfires unite craft lovers to stitch pouches, mittens for burned animals
MONTREAL -- Craft enthusiasts across the world are working together to create tiny mittens, blankets and pouches for animals affected by the bushfires in Australia.
“We’re a bunch of crafters who decided to do something,” said Lachute resident Shana Panasuk, a Quebecer involved in the project. “We’re going to be asking for donations and looking for companies who can ship everything. Once we have a big box of stuff, we’re going to ship them ASAP.”
The international Animal Rescue Craft Guild has more than 83,000 members, and its Canadian sister collective, the Canadian Animal Rescue Craft group, has garnered more than 900 devoted crafters since its creation on Saturday.
“I’m making kangaroo pouches because I have a lot of flannel,” Panasuk told CTV News, adding it will take about 45 minutes to make each pouch. “Some of the animals are rescues, like kangaroos that lost their mothers, so they need the pouches so they feel safe and can develop normally.”
The knitters, crocheters and sewers are working around the clock to create as many items that the animals can use. Panasuk adds the group is actively looking for more volunteers to make everything from bat pillows to bird nests.
“As long as I have materials to make stuff with, that’s what I’m going to be doing for the next while,” she said. “Not everybody has $500,000 to give to an organization. We’re all just trying to do our part.”
She points out, for anyone looking to join the cause, getting the right materials for specific animals is important – otherwise, they may not use the handcrafted gifts.
“We’re going to do as much as we can in a short time so we help now and not in six months,” Panasuk explained. “I just want to do my part.”
The latest numbers show that at least a billion animals have died since the fires started last September.
How you can help
Looking for ways to help from afar? Here is a list of ways you can get involved:
- Help the Australian Red Cross give aid to thousands in evacuation and recovery centres, as well as provide training and equipment to volunteers
- Donate to the Salvation Army Canada and Salvation Army Australia to help provide meals and support to evacuees and frontline responders
- Donate to this GoFundMe page, set up to help displaced First Nations communities needing to rebuild
- Help the Victorian Bushfire Appeal raise money for communities in need
- Donate food, toiletries or money to non-profit organization Givit
- Collect funds or supplies for Foodbank, one of the largest hunger-relief charities in the country
- List your home as emergency housing on AirBnB if you have one
- Donate to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, which is collecting funds to help victims rebuild their homes
- Give to the New South Wales Rural Fire Service, Victoria's Country Fire Authority, Queensland’s Rural Fire Brigades Association and the Country Fire Service in South Australia
- Organize fundraisers for the families of volunteer firefighters killed this year
- Donate money to the World Wildlife Fund to help injured animals and restore their homes
- Give funds to RSPCA Bushfire Appeal to help inspectors remove animals from disaster zones and protect livestock
- Donate to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital to help thousands of marsupials
- Donate to the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Park, which was hit hard by the wildfires, to help treat and care for injured animals
- Donate to the Wildlife rescue organization Wires to help the country’s at-risk fauna