Ranges Rescue founders Sally Olinowski, Kate Nabarro and Wendi Turner at Riddells Creek Scout Hall where hundreds of pouches are being made. Inset, some of the bushfire-affected animals benefiting from the pouches. ​

By Jackson Russell

A group of Riddells Creek crafters have been overwhelmed by community support as they make pouches and raise money for refuges caring for wildlife affected by bushfires raging across Australia.

Ranges Rescue began when founders Kate Nabarro and Sally Olinowski put out the call on social media for donations of fabric and material to craft pouches.

Both were inundated with community support, filling their houses with secondhand doona covers, blankets, pillowcases and fabric.

“It turned out that a few people wanted to help and that turned into a full scale working bee, which has now turned into even more donations and more community engagement,” Ms Nabarro said.

With their houses full, a bed and breakfast business and Riddells Creek Scout Group offered their buildings to help store the donations. The group also had to register as a not-for-profit organisation.

“We’ve been blown away by the enormity of something that was supposed to be just a couple little groups getting together and doing a little bit of a sew into how the community has come together,” Ms Olinowski said.

Volunteers have cut, trimmed and sewn hundreds of pouches, ranging from extra, extra small for sugar gliders to extra, extra large for kangaroo joeys, have been made from the donated fabrics and will be sent to Coopers Animal Refuge and distributed to fire-affected areas.

“We’ve also got some amazing knitters and crocheters that are doing handspun woollen pouches with liners and little nests that they can use for possums and sugar gliders,” Ms Nabarro said.

As part of their efforts to support wildlife refuges, Ranges Rescue is hosting a fundraiser on February 1 at Riddells Creek Scout Hall.

Tote bags, crocheted animal keychains and other crafts will be for sale, with all money going to refuges helping fire-affected wildlife.

“Some of the fabric that’s been donated has been brand new, quality stuff that we thought instead of making the pouches, we’ll create tote bags and things like that and sell them on the day,” Ms Nabarro said.

There will also be a sewing bee for people to help make more pouches as well as sewing, crafting and colouring competitions.

“We’ll have the machines set up and they can come down and just do a couple of hours or an hour or so to help make some of the pouches and things like that up,” Ms Nabarro said.
The money raised will help buy formula for animals, which can cost up to $400 a week, and bottle teats, which are $7 each, all of which comes out of the carers’ pockets.

“Some of them have to drive and pick up injured animals from all different locations and they’re using their money,” Ms Nabarro said.

“If we can do to something little to show that they’re not forgotten, then that just helps encourage them.”

To get involved, donate or lend a hand, visit Ranges Rescue group on Facebook at facebook.com/groups/1100943983576130.