Local volunteers make blankets for Australian wildlife

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — West Michigan crafters are joining in to help save animals during the historic Australian wildfires. 

The wildfire, which has been burning since September, is estimated to have burned more than 12 million acres, killed 24 people and destroyed 1,000 homes. Some scientists estimate the fires have also killed nearly a billion animals. 

The American Rescue Crafters Connect, which has several subgroups across the nation, including one in West Michigan, is now looking to help with the use of a little fabric. Members are sewing blankets for bats, pouches for infant kangaroos, fleece beds and nests for birds and rodents. 

“Here we just feel so helpless and it was a good way to use some little skill that we have to do something,” volunteer Samantha Avery said. “For me, just seeing all of these posts coming out of just the tragic animal rescues and loss of life there, it’s very overwhelming and sad and this seemed like a way that I could get involved.”

The Facebook page for the Michigan chapter of the group already has more than 400 members after forming only about a week ago.

“It’s been amazing watching how many people want to be involved,” said volunteer Catherine Santora, who is helping to collect materials in West Michigan. “We’re all in this together. This is us, the world, and yes we do need to take care of ours at home but we need to be here for each other.”

After all of the crafting is done, volunteers take the homemade materials to a drop-off point. The items then get sent to Illinois and from there go to animal rescue teams in Australia.

The volunteers say that though their deed may seem small, they’re making a big impact. 

“It doesn’t take a lot to make a bat wrap and maybe that bat wrap isn’t going to make a huge difference but when you have hundreds of thousands of them being sent in from the furthermost reaches of the globe, it’s inspiring and it’s heartwarming and I’m very proud to be a part of that,” Avery said.

To help, the volunteers recommend joining their Facebook group to see what items need to be made. The group says it is in need of 100% cotton flannel and fleece material. 

Those who are interested can drop off materials at the following locations:

  • Rollie Williams Paint Spot, 2570 Walker Ave. NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49544
  • Volunteer Hub, 228 Hickory St., Sparta, MI, 49345

Volunteers say all items that don’t get used in the wildfire efforts will be forwarded to domestic animal rescue programs.