KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Thousands of people in southeast Australia are evacuating from their homes.
Military helicopters are dropping emergency supplies to towns at risk of being isolated by flames following rising winds.
At least 27 people have died in the fires and an estimated one billion animals have been killed.
When it comes to helping the wildlife in Australia there are a lot of awesome groups helping rescue animals from the fires.
They need money, but they also need a simple pouch that anyone can make at home if you have a needle and thread.
Crafters in East Tennessee have already started pulling out their fabric to help animals in a simple and fun way.
One of those volunteer is animal lover Cassie Krause, who's hated watching Australian creatures suffer in the fires.
"It hurts so much for those animals but you want to be able to help in any way you can," she said.
She decided to pair that love for animals with her passion for crafting.
"I wanted to get involved after seeing a friend online asking to collect t-shirts and I thought, well that's a very simple thing to do," said Krause.
T-shirts and other cotton or wool fabrics are all it take to make joey pouches for injured animals like young kangaroos, koalas, wallabies, bats and others.
"It helps keep the animals warm and protected from their bandages, it's basically like a swaddle," said Krause.
It's something wildlife advocate and former Australian wildlife rescuer Joe Wall would carry with him when he lived in Melbourne.
"Twice I came across live joeys in a pouch, in the roo's pouch, and so you would take your little thing and you'd cradle it and you'd get them in there," said Wall. "It's a nice, it's a lovely gesture."
He's seen the toll bushfires can take on animals and people in Australia.
"When death comes to a place it's just horrifying," said Wall.
But you can make a difference by donating fabric or money, or making your own joey pouches.
The patterns can be found online, and right now the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild said the biggest need is for joey pouches sizes XXS-XXL, hanging pouches, animal beds and donations for supplies and postage.
Thousands of people are now making these pouches across the U.S. and the world.
"We're doing not necessarily our duty, but we're doing what's right," said Krause.
Wall said these injured animals can't survive on their own.
"Those ones that do survive need help. Period. They simply don't have the places to go to get the food, to get the water," he said.
Sewing isn't the only way to make these pouches.
Animal experts are asking for blankets to help keep animals warm, joey pouches for injured or orphaned kangaroos and nests for birds or small mammals.
The Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild is asking that you only use the following approved patterns:
For blankets, experts ask that knitters use only stockinette or garter stitch because animals can pick or get caught in loose or lacy patterns.
For crocheters, wildlife groups are asking for similar items, but they have another set of patterns:
- Nest (Note: UK terminology)
- Joey pouches
Wildlife groups are asking those with sewing machines to make bat wraps to help rescuers hold and comfort injured bats. Sewers can also make joey pouches.
There are many more approved patterns for projects to help animals in Australia listed here.
You can drop off finished projects at Loopville Yarn & Knitting shop in Bearden. Its address is 5204 Kingston Pike #1.
You can also mail completed projects to the American Rescue Crafters Southeast Hub (360 Pine Ridge Drive Harriman, TN 37748) or directly to Australia.
If you'd rather donate to the group in Australia, you can do that here, and you can donate here to the American Rescue Crafters to help them ship their donations to Australia.
You can also join the 10Crafts Facebook group here.