Local woman leads project to make 100 wallaby bags for fire-ravaged Australia

After watching the devastation of the Australian bushfires and reflecting on a passage of scripture from the book of Peter, Maria Morrison said to herself, “Together we can use our gifts.”

One of her gifts is sewing, and she’s on a mission to put that to use in assisting the wildlife victims of the fires that have, thus far, burned more than 12 million acres and killed two dozen people and more than one billion animals.

Morrison, a member of the First Christian Church, 319 Broadway St., formed the Sewing the Seed ministry three years ago as a way for her to serve the community by offering free sewing classes.

Now, she and other members of Sewing the Seed are coming together to sew at least one hundred wallaby bags to ship to Australia.

The lightweight fabric bags, worn on the shoulder or around the neck of rescue workers, act as makeshift pouches for young wallaby and kangaroo joeys found by workers.

The orphaned, infant marsupials are helpless without their mothers and would typically rely on the mother’s pouch for shelter and protection.

Morrison says wildlife relief organizations are requesting crafters around the world do what they can to create everything from wallaby bags to mittens for burned paws and even bedding for a variety of injured and rescued animals.

“I was looking at 'The Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild' on Facebook, and they’re using crafters from all over the globe to make nests, pouches, and homes for different animals in Australia,” she said. “And I thought, ‘I need to do something, I can sew.’”

Once her mission was clear, Morrison put out a call for volunteers on Facebook and visited local businesses to solicit donations of materials.

“I have to give credit where it’s due,” she said. “Joann’s Fabric, the Salvation Army, Goodwill, St. Vincent DePaul, and Fort Sackville donated a lot fabric and belting for the project.”

Morrison also said she’s had an outpouring of positive responses on her Sewing the Seed Facebook page.

“You sit and watch the news on television and you feel sort of helpless,” she said. “I think the community really wants a way to help, and this project is an avenue to do that.

Even Morrison’s five-year-old daughter wanted to get involved and made a wallaby bag herself, with a little help from mom, of course.

With a proud smile Morrison describes her daughter as a girl of action who “wanted to make a special wallaby pouch for one special joey.”

Saturday, Morrison and other members of Sewing the Seed will gather at First Christian Church from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. to continue making these wallaby bags.

Morrison says the group will sew as many bags as possible, and community members who would like to participate are warmly invited to assist.

“Even if you can only come for an hour,” she said. “We can use the help.”

After a full day of serving through sewing, the wallaby bags will then be taken to a church in Evansville, and from there shipped to Australia.

“We are called to serve,” she said. “As Christians, the people of Australia are our brothers and sisters, and this is one way of sending our love over there.

“Use your hands and gifts to serve.”

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