After watching the news about the devastating Australian bush fires, Cheryl Stone knew she had to help out in any way she could.
An animal lover, she says the images of the injured joeys and koalas was too much to bear. A search online for how to help the animals led her to the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild — a perfect fit for Stone who is an avid crafter and sewer herself.
The craft guild creates items for animal rescue efforts throughout Australia and is part of the Animal Rescue Collective community. The program is volunteer run and all items are donated free of charge to rescues.
Stone downloaded sewing patterns provided on the website and became the contact in Saskatoon for others who want to donate crafted items. Stone says there are five other people collecting items across the province.
She also began learning more about kangaroos, koalas, wombats and possums in order to better understand how the items she was making were going to help the animals.
"I didn't know joeys can live in a pouch for up to 18 months!" she said.
Stone says the patterns are basic and easy to follow, so you don't need to be an advanced sewer or knitter to help out. She is also willing to help if anyone needs guidance on how to put the items together.
So far, she has collected a dozens of items, from crocheted liners, to pouches for baby kangaroos, to specialty bags to carry the injured marsupials.
She has also started a crowdfunding page to help cover costs volunteers may have when delivering the items to her. Stone says any money left over will be sent to an animal shelter in Australia.
The first pick up of pouches, liners and slings will be made this week and sent to Australia. Stone says there will be more pick-up days in the coming weeks.
Some media sources, including the Washington Post, have reported that some groups have been inundated with such donations and are asking crafters to pause while they take stock, while other animal welfare groups are asking well-wishers to send financial support instead.
According to recent reports, more than a billion animals have died in the Australian bush fires. There are currently dozens of bush fires throughout Australia still burning, primarily along the southeast coast. The fires cover thousands of square kilometres and is destroying animals' natural habitats.