TORRINGTON — Images of kangaroos, koalas and other marsupials are all over the pages of Facebook these days — heart-rending scenes of creatures suffering as wildfires burn in Australia.
Animal welfare organizations around the world are helping, raising money and doing everything they can to save as many animals as possible. Meanwhile, people who specialize in the arts of knitting, crocheting and sewing are doing their part.
In Sheep’s Clothing owner Ginger Balch welcomed a small group of such people to her Water Street shop Jan. 11, and spent the day making pouches for joeys, or baby marsupials, out of soft flannel. The team of knitters and sewers included Judith Fifield, Lucille Fines, Sharon Riccucci, Julie Anderson,Trina Schultz-Milanese, Kathy Bottass, Tammy Schwartz, and other customers and out-of-town friends, Balch said. Schwartz and her husband donated the fabric.
With one sewing machine to share, the project took a little time, but the group was able to cut and sew a dozen pouches between 2 and 5 p.m. The work will continue this week, and Balch hopes to send at least three-dozen to https://wildcare.org.au, which is distributing them to shelters caring for rescued animals.
“We had the idea of doing an assembly line to make (the pouches) but we had three children who couldn’t sew and really wanted to help,” Balch sald. “So we were working with them, and one person cut the fabric. It took time because we only had one sewing machine.”
The group, Balch said, came together because “we are just so sad about the animals.”
“We didn’t talk too much about it,” she said. “We wanted to keep it positive.”
The response to her idea to hold Pouches for Joey was very positive, she said. “People were calling me up, wanting to donate. ... People donated money to ship the pouches out,” she said. “I had a really busy Saturday, so I’m also going to donate 10 percent of Saturday’s business proceeds, too.”
To donate to In Sheep’s Clothing’s Pouches for Joey project, call 860-482-3979 or visit https://in-sheeps-clothing.com.
According to wildcare.org, the term “joey” refers to the baby of any marsupial, including baby possums, gliders, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats and bandicoots. “When hand-raising orphaned joeys, we try to imitate the way their mother would care for them, which includes providing them with a warm and secure pouch in which the joey will (live) until it is old enough ... to start to venture away from its safety,” staff members said in a statement on its website.
The organization also provides full instructions on making joey pouches, “based on preferences from our own wildlife carers,” according to the site. “If you are making pouches for another wildlife group or carer, we would suggest you check with them first if they have any specific preferences.”
In a statement from give.greatergood.org, another organization seeking financial donations to rehabilitate orphaned animals, it said “Officials estimate that over one billion animals have perished in the fires in New South Wales alone. The continent is home to 244 species, including the koala, that can’t be found anywhere else.”
The Humane Society is also taking donations at https://bit.ly/2QRWpFO.