Australia

Librarian Yelena Kisler discusses pattern details for making joey pouches, to be sent to aid orphaned marsupials in Australia, with volunteers at the Barbara M. Brown Memorial Library in Emporium.

Crafters around the globe have been working diligently to provide aid to Australian wildlife, making everything from bat wraps to protective cloth pouches for orphaned marsupials, as the continent is ravaged by the worst wildfires seen in decades.

Yelena Kisler, librarian from the Barbara M. Brown Memorial Library in Emporium, recently reached out to the community via Facebook looking for crafters interested in helping the cause and was pleasantly surprised by the response she received.

“A friend of mine shared a Facebook post from the American Rescue Crafters about items that are still determined to be in very high need, along with information about where U.S. collection centers were,” Kisler said. “When that came through, a spark went off. We have a lot of crafty people in the area and I thought it would be nice if we could make a handful of pouches.”

Within minutes of publishing the post on Facebook, organizations and individuals had responded, asking where they could donate supplies and how they could help.

“Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services donated multiple bags of materials and they were one of the first organizations to jump at the chance,” said Kisler. “A few individual members and library patrons donated and the local secondhand shop donated a lot of material, extra thread and needles.”

A total of 19 volunteers showed up to the library Saturday to help sew fabric joey pouches, which will be sent to a hub in Lewisburg, to be distributed as needed to facilities in Australia.

“People of all ages came to help,” recalled Kisler. “We had one little girl who couldn’t have been more than eight or nine years old — she had her mom buy a mini sewing machine and learned how to sew on the spot.”

The group worked from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday and managed to make close to 50 inner and outer joey pouches, with an additional 20 or so being finished by volunteers at home. Kisler plans on mailing out all finished pouches by this Saturday.

“It was really nice and heartwarming to have so many people jump at the chance to help,” said Kisler.

She emphasized that the group focused on making items that were still currently in high demand. At one point in time, organizations were asking for koala mittens, though they have received so many they are no longer needed at this time.

Those interested in helping can visit the American Rescue Craft Guild on Facebook for an updated list of needed items, item specifications and patterns. Other suggested ideas for crafters to aid Australian wildlife include auctioning off crafted items and making a monetary donation to an organization of their choice, such as Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc. (WIRES), Wildlife Victoria or RSPCA Australia.

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