Annabel Wrigley, owner of Little Pincushion Studio, put out a call for help on her Facebook page and Warrenton answered. The ask was not for herself, but on behalf of some of the koalas and wallabies who have been orphaned by the wildfires raging in Australia.

Wrigley is from Sydney, Australia; her daughter Ruby was born there. Her parents, four siblings and many nieces and nephews live there as well.

News reports say that since October, the country has been experiencing unprecedented wildfires on the eastern shore, where most of Australia’s citizens live. Nearly 2,000 homes have been destroyed.

Thousands of residents and tourists have been evacuated and it is feared that hundreds of millions of animals may have been killed or displaced by the flames.

Wrigley said that although many choose to donate money to help the people and animals affected by the natural disaster, she wanted to do more. All week long, her young sewing students worked at sewing pouches that can be used to shelter baby koalas who have lost their mothers in the fires. They followed directions from the Animal Rescue Collective, which will put the pouches in the hands of animal rescuers.

Wrigley said she learned about the project “via an online request for donations. Many other people in my industry from all over the world are also gathering to make items. It's an amazing community of makers.”

On Saturday night, about 20 helpers of all ages showed up at Little Pincushion Studios on Fifth Street to continue the work. While a couple of helpers cut out the material, others manned the sewing machines and others trimmed and folded. Several mother-daughter teams arrived, and at least one mother-son pair. Jack Dueck, son of Kirsten Dueck, learned on-the-spot how to use a sewing machine.

Holly Tedeschi and daughter Ella cut out material for wallaby swings. Wrigley explained that they are little bags that hang; “the wallabies like to crawl up in them.” The bags have a hole in the top so the tiny animals can peek out and look around.

Warrenton Town Manager Brandie Schaeffer was helping out, too. “I saw the notice on Facebook. I sew, so I thought I’d come and help … It’s for the animals.”

The Animal Rescue Collective provided patterns and instructions for the sewers, who worked for about four hours. Wrigley said she has about 50 bags/pouches to send. She added that someone has donated the cost of shipping the brightly colored creations to Australia.

​After 10 years teaching children to sew in Warrenton, Little Pincushion Studios will be closing this summer as the family moves to Richmond. Wrigley said, “I am planning to continue teaching and spreading the love of creativity to children. I have workshops scheduled for many Saturday afternoons in order to teach as many beginner kiddos as possible before I close my doors.”

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