Devastating wildfires in Australia might be half a world away, but that doesn’t mean people in Powell River are not affected by the disaster.
“My brother-in-law is a wildfire fighter in the United States,” said Amanda Hasler, owner of Knitters Nest in Townsite. “He left [for Australia] New Year’s Eve, and at first he was able to keep us updated, but it’s gotten so busy that he’s found it much harder to do so.”
The month-long assignment has since been changed to an unknown end date, according to Hasler, which shows the scope of the fires. Because of her personal connection to the disaster, Hasler wanted to do something.
“When something like this happens, most of us want to help but are not sure how because the problem is so big,” said Hasler. “So when I saw that the Animal Rescue Craft Guild put out a call for knit and crochet outer pouches for baby kangaroos, I brought it up with the people at our Thursday knit night to see if they might be interested in doing it. The enthusiasm was incredible.”
Animal Rescue Craft Guild (ARCG) is associated with the Animal Rescue Cooperative (ARC) and The Rescue Collective (TRC), two organizations that work together to preserve animals’ lives and support domestic and wild animal rescue in Australia. TRC and ARC have been airlifting food into burned-out areas every two weeks, as well as caring for orphaned and injured animals.
“People around the world have been donating items to help with animal care and rehabilitation,” said Hasler. “In fact, the response has been so overwhelming that the ARCG has asked people to finish up what they are working on right now and not start anything new until they take stock of what they have received and what they still need.”
Knitters Nest (5831 Ash Avenue) is the Powell River drop-off point for any donations to the ARCG, and will be collecting donations of joey pouches and other items until February 29. Knitters, crocheters and sewers are encouraged to join the official ARCG group on Facebook for patterns and to keep abreast of ongoing needs after the group completes its inventory.
“If you want to donate money to purchase food and help with ongoing animal care costs, there are links in the Facebook group for how to donate to TRC and ARC,” added Hasler. “And donating to the Red Cross is a good way to help the people affected by these fires as well.”
Hasler sees the outpouring of generosity from around the world as a good sign.
“Here in Powell River, we’re a community, but we’re still connected with the broader global community,” she said. “In the face of something like this, we wonder how any small thing we do here can make a difference there, but our actions are just like knitting. One stitch or action may be small, but many stitches or actions together can make something really big and significant.”