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Students, teachers start emergency sewing circle for Australia's koalas, wallabies, and kangaroos

Students and teachers at Mountain View Elementary School have pulled out some sewing machines and set to work crafting items to help animal rescue efforts in Australia.

Students and teachers at Mountain View Elementary School have pulled out some sewing machines and set to work crafting items to help animal rescue efforts in Australia.

Students from Grades 1 to 8 are involved in the effort, which includes making wallaby and kangaroo pouches to send to animal rescue agencies in Australia that are overrun due to the country-wide bushfires.

Sophie Lougheed, 12, is a Grade 7 student involved in the efforts at Mountain View.

“I know it’s really serious in Australia right now … animals are dying,” she said, adding she wanted to do what she could to help after hearing the news.

“It feels great [to be helping],” she said. “It’s hard for them to fight the fires and the animals really need our help. Even little things can make a difference.”

Lougheed’s teacher, Kim Limoges, has been to Australia on a work exchange twice. While she’s in Australia, a teacher from Australia comes to teach at Mountain View.

She said it’s really hard to see the images coming out of Australia as the fires burn out of control.

“It’s devastating,” she said. “The visuals are heartbreaking.”

She talks about the fires with her class in the morning, and is glad to be working on a local project to send items for the relief efforts.

In fact, Limoges is one of several teachers at Mountain View who have participated in Australian exchanges. She said the school has a “ strong connection” to Australia.

The other classes participating in the sewing projects are Mrs. Hammond’s, Mrs. Lougheed’s, and Mrs. Elder’s.

“I’m so proud,” she said. “The kids jumped totally on board. Everyone in my class wanted to participate.”

There were already a few kids in the class who had taken sewing lessons through a program at Sunset Manor. Lougheed was one of them. She said she enjoys sewing and is excited to use her skills to make the wallaby and joey pouches.

Ireland Lang, 6, is a Grade 1 student who heard about the school effort and asked if she and her friends could join in the work.

She is an Earth Ranger, which is an online club that encourages its young members to complete “missions.”

One such mission was to help with animal habitats. She and other Grade 1 students have been pinning and measuring fabric to be cut and sewn for the pouches.

The pouches will be used for young kangaroos (joeys) and wallabies that have been orphaned or while the parents are being treated for injuries from the fires.

Next week, Sean Rennie’s class will also be hosting a hot chocolate and bake sale on Jan. 23, so students are encouraged to bring some money to school to support the charity sale. Money raised through the sale will be given to the Mountain View Australian relief project.

Heidi Elder, a teacher at Mountain View, is the “sewing guru” for the project and she got a head start on some koala mittens she sewed with her friends this weekend at Creemore House of Stitches.

Natalie Thomson also works at the school and her assignment takes her to several classrooms, so she helped recruit volunteers.

She said it was easy to find eager students.

“They could probably spend all day on it if we let them,” she said, adding their work is limited to a 50 minute period, and some volunteer meetings at lunch time.

Their work on the sewing project will be tied in with their Geography lessons as they learn about places and relief efforts around the world, as well as not-for-profit organizations. They will also get credit toward their art marks.

The sewing started today, and Thomson expects to have about 20 pouches completed by the end of the class.

Thomson said the community has been very supportive already by donating fabric and supplies and offering loans of sewing machines.

She said the group is planning to send a shipment to Australia this weekend, and hopes to continue work toward another shipment. The goal is to send 100 pouches to Australia.

The project is still in need of cotton fabric and thread donations, which can be left at the school.

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Erika Engel

About the Author: Erika Engel

Erika regularly covers all things news in Collingwood as a reporter and editor. She has 15 years of experience as a local journalist
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