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By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
There is very little that Medfield, Massachusetts has in common with Australia when it comes to climate this time of year. As residents of Medfield put on their coats and gloves before they head out the door each day, Aussies are dressed in shorts and tank-tops. As Medfielders are shoveling out their driveways, Aussies are jumping into pools. Australians, though enjoying the warmer weather, are currently battling some of the worst wildfires they’ve ever seen. As a result, thousands of wild animals have been left defenseless and in need of a little help. Enter volunteers at the Medfield Library, who were happy to lend a little help for the first-ever Australian Wildlife Drive.
Held across four sessions, volunteers helped cut fabric and sew some much-needed items. On Thursday, February 6, adults sewed marsupial pouches in the morning while teenagers sewed crate pads in the evening. During the adult session, volunteers formed an assembly line. A few took pre-cut fabric and stitched away at the sewing machine. Other volunteers, after being handed the pouches, made sure they could withstand the weight of a small marsupial without breaking, and cut off some extra thread on which the animals might try to chew.
Bri Ozanne began the teen session by asking if the volunteers knew how to sew. When everyone raised their hand, Bri followed up by asking if everyone knew how to sew over pins. After confirming they could, she responded with an enthusiastic “You guys are pros! Sweet!” During the session, volunteers managed to turn every pre-pinned piece of fabric into comfy crate pads within minutes of starting, allowing the group to make more beds than expected.
The wildlife drive is one of many helping all over the country. Products made during Thursday’s session will be brought to a drop-off spot organized by the Animal Rescue Craft Guild and shipped to Australian wildlife centers that need supplies. “My co-worker, Athena, originally saw the call for pouches and beds on Facebook and sent me the details. Once we figured out these were objects that could be made by beginners, Erica, our teen librarian, and I quickly organized the craft sessions and put out our own call for fabric donations, and the community really responded,” explained Bri Ozanne, who led the sessions. “Everything was made with donated materials, and we even raised some money to help get the items shipped to Australia.”
In just a couple of hours for each session, adult sewers were able to complete 21 liners for pouches (seven sets), while the teenagers managed to start and finish seven crate pads for some of the larger animals. With each one they finished, volunteers could picture a tiny joey taking refuge in a pouch, or a recovering koala peacefully resting on one of their crate pads.
Despite the few hours they’d spent, volunteers left knowing that they had made a difference in the lives of these injured animals.