By Carolyn Preul
As devastating fires continue in Australia, craft enthusiasts around the world are working to bring comfort to the animals in the region.
When Lacey Erbschloe ’19 of Columbia, Missouri, came across a Facebook group asking for hand-stitched items to aid in the relief efforts, she immediately wanted to help. She researched the Australian-based organization and found sub-groups in Ukraine and the U.S. before joining the Missouri Hub of the Relief Crafters of America.
“I have had this stockpile of yarn at home that I didn’t know what to do with,” Erbschloe says. “Now I can use it for this great cause.”
Supporters of all skill levels have banded together to sew, knit and crochet items to be shipped to Australia. The Facebook groups provide templates and specify the types of materials to use, steering clear of yarn with lace, sparkles or glitter that are not safe for animals.
Erbschloe first learned how to knit by making scarves and blankets with her grandma, and she certainly never imagined making something to send all the way to Australia. She now sees first-hand how the things she makes can help others.
“I only know basic stitches and have just recently started to learn how to crochet, but it has become so much more than just making something,” she says. “We are all in different countries but everyone is cheering for each other.”
As a personal challenge, she wanted to make a variety of items, including bird nests, wallaby pouches and bat wraps. Local drop-off locations will collect completed projects, materials and cash donations to assist with shipping costs.
Through this global initiative, Erbschloe has learned Missouri wildlife centers have similar needs year-round. She hopes to continue with crafting efforts knowing these homemade wraps and mittens can bring comfort to injured or displaced animals.
“I invited a group of friends over to work on bird nests,” she says. “It’s cool to see everyone come together.”
Erbschloe received a bachelor’s degree in English from the Columbia College Evening Program in 2019. She is now a full-time graduate student at Columbia College working on a teaching certificate and Masters in Teaching to become a high school English teacher.