Greenville woman knits for animals affected by Australian Bushfires

  • Courtney Demers of Greenville knits a nest that she plans to send to Australia to help with wildlife relief efforts after massive wildfires which have badly impacted the continent. Courtesy photo—

  • Courtney Demers of Greenville knits a nest that she plans to send to Australia to help with wildlife relief efforts after massive wildfires which have badly impacted the continent. Courtesy photo

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/8/2020 3:02:17 PM

More than 10,000 miles away from Australia’s devastating bushfires a Greenville woman is joining a global effort to bring comfort to the surviving animals.

“I just want to be part of it,” Courtney Demers said. “I see posts from the United Kingdom, South America, all over Asia. It’s incredible to see in this devastation that people are willing to lock arms and put aside their own needs to help this country in dire need.”

The impact the Australia wildfires has had is staggering. Up to 25 people and more than one billion animals are believed to have been killed and nearly 20 million acres of bushland across the continent have burned since the fires started in September.

Demers said this week, she is joining thousands of crafters around the world to try to ease the burden of animal rescue organizations, by making some of the tools they need to treat and rehabilitate orphaned, homeless or burned animals displaced by the fires.

“There’s devastation going on over there, and you feel helpless being so far away and unable to help,” Demers said.

She was particularly struck by some of the images of the animals who had been burned by the fires.

“I love animals, all types of animals, and seeing the pictures across our news feed over and over again is so heartbreaking,” Demers said. “I know that people need help too, but it resonated with me.”

And while the need is particularly acute now, Demers said, she liked the idea of donating an item which would be of use into the future, over one-time aid such as a monetary donation.

Demers didn’t know how to help until she saw a Facebook post by the Animal Rescue Craft Guild, located in South Wales, Australia, one of the areas hardest hit by the fires, asking for crafters to donate a variety of items – pouches for marsupials and bats, gloves for koalas so they don’t injure their burned skin, wraps for bats, and crocheted nests for small birds or reptiles.

Demers, who was taught to crochet and knit by her great-aunt and grandmother, said she may only be able to contribute a few items to send to the New Hampshire hub before they’re shipped out to Australia, but she knows each item will make a difference to an animal.

“It may be small, but it’s such a huge impact at that same time,” Demers said.

Sheila Bonfiglio of Rumney, is serving as a collection point for New Hampshire crafters and plans to send a shipment to another, larger hub on Jan. 20 to be forwarded to Australia. She said she’s not an experienced sewer, but all of the projects come with patterns and instructions and are easy enough for even a layman to follow.

“It’s a catastrophic event,” Bonfiglio said. “If you can do one thing and it helps one other being, you’ve made a difference.”

Demers is focusing her efforts on crocheting nests, because their small size makes them quick to complete, while Bonfiglio said she is concentrating on making pouches for young kangaroos and other marsupials because the pattern is simple.

And while the pressing need means there isn’t long enough to make a great number of items for Demers, she said she knows she’s only a single thread in a much larger tapestry of support. Crafters from around the world have answered the call and set up local hubs to gather items.

Those wishing to donate items for the Animal Rescue Craft Guild, should note the specifications of the items requested, including no visible seams which may be caught on an animal’s claws, and natural materials for the inner pouches. A full list of specifications and patterns can be found on the Animal Rescue Craft Guild Facebook page at tinyurl.com/CraftGuild.

Demers has committed to shipping finished craft projects to Bonfiglio by Jan. 14. Locals who wish to donate finished product may do so by contacting Demers by email at courtney1emilia@gmail.com. Those that wish to send items directly to Bonfiglio may contact her at sheila@rumneyvillagestore.com.




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