Images of animals being hurt and displaced by wildfires in Australia tugged at her heartstrings and compelled her to help.
“One that really stuck with me was a koala eating but surrounded by fire, and all he wanted was to survive,” said Nancy Henry of Highbury. Luckily for the koala, a rescuer braved the flames to save it.
However, this happy ending is far from the reality experienced by countless other animals. She said this image and other images of bewildered wildlife have stuck with her.
Henry learned of an international effort to help Australian wildlife after several Facebook friends who know she enjoys crocheting sent her a link to the Animal Rescue Craft Guild. This is an Australian-based initiative to mobilize knitters, sewers, crochetiers and other craftspeople to help animals hurt or displaced by the Australia wildfires.
Henry then discovered that a Canadian Animal Rescue Craft Guild (CARCG) page has also been established. As of Jan. 13, the Australian guild had more than 224,000 members and the Canadian guild had 10,532. A week earlier, the Canadian guild had fewer than 1,000 members. Schools and other groups are starting to get involved and craftspeople in other countries have also organized to answer the call.
“This really has just exploded within the past week,” Henry said. “I think it’s neat how it’s taken on a life of its own.”
Although you have to first be accepted as a member to view most of the content, a list of items needed and the patterns to make them are available on the CARCG Facebook page. The patterns can be found under the “Files” tab. Items needed include blankets, nests, pouches and more - for birds, kangaroos, koalas and other animals.
Using leftover yarn, Henry crocheted six nests of varying sizes for the effort between Jan. 10 and 13. She said she would likely get another done before she had to deliver the items. She plans to continue making more after the first batch is sent.
Henry said her biggest concern was how they were going to ship the items to Australia, as a package weighing approximately two pounds could cost as much as $250 to mail. She then heard that Air Canada would be putting on a special cargo flight, free of charge, to deliver donations gathered across the country.
Henry learned through the CARCG page that there is a collection hub for donated items in Bedford. She planned to deliver her items and those made by two other craftspeople on Jan. 14. The items have to be to Halifax by Jan. 15 for shipping on Jan. 17.
Henry said they are hopeful that there will be other free or low-cost cargo flights at some point, sponsored by Air Canada or other airlines, so that more items can be delivered.
She said it’s great to see families working together on projects and some children are learning to crochet just so that they can help the animals.
Henry said she finds the situation with the Australia wild fires “mindboggling.” Australian and international firefighters must be exhausted. The impact on people is unimaginable and the natural environment is being devastated.
Plants, insects and animals are perishing, significantly impacting the food chain. With the summer season just getting underway in Australia, the situation could get worse before it gets better.
For more information, visit the Canadian Animal Rescue Craft Guild Facebook page. Note that you have to be accepted as a member before viewing most of the content.
To make a donation, visit the Canadian Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild page on www.gofundme.com.