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Anna Key says of her mum Nicki, that she was knitting pouches for Australia’s bush fire injured animals until her hands were red raw and there had to be a better way. The answer was social media. Why have a handful of knitters when you can have thousands… maybe even tens of thousands? Image: Fran Dowsett

How one girl changed the world – from Yamba!

It all started with her mum “knitting a Koala pouch”.

For week after week the Australian population has read and viewed accounts of bushfire devastation, not just along the east coast but on the far side of the country in Western Australia and South Australia.

Whilst most of us feel individually helpless to do anything to assist, there are those individuals who take up the challenge and put their talent to the test.

Yamba’s Anna Key is the first to admit she has no particular ‘talent’ so far as knitting, sewing and professional bushfire assistance is concerned. However she “loves digital marketing”.

Anna’s story started on Friday January 3. “I was sitting watching my mum, Nicki, knitting a woollen koala ‘pouch’; it was the eighth pouch she had knitted (after a call for assistance from the Country Women’s Institute at Maclean) since fires began around Yamba and Angourie some months before”.

Anna said she thought her mum’s efforts were commendable but the process was very time consuming and she would only be able to knit a handful of pouches. “I was sad and concerned with the whole online tone of argument and general panic about the fire situation.”

“If only our tears could put out the fires” Anna kept saying.

“My mind clicked into gear…what if could use my social media skills to enlist the help of dozens, or even hundreds to help?” Anna searched the internet for patterns and designs for pouches to post on her Facebook page.

“I was struggling to find anything useful and then I came across the site of the ‘Animal Rescue Craft Guild’. I downloaded the patterns from their site and posted them to my Facebook page ‘Heist Jewellery’”.

Anna says she is friends with the wife of Brazilian heavy metal band lead singer, Max Cavalera, of ‘Soulfly’. The band has 873,610 followers on their page – so plenty of exposure. They posted her Australian animal fire rescue information on their page, helping gain traction around the world.

“That was on the Sunday and other musicians (from members of ‘Devilskin’, ‘God Forbid’, ‘Primer 55’ and ‘Toshi Iseda’) jumped aboard and also posted the information… a movement had begun”.

“By Monday morning I had 11,000 shares and by breakfast it was 12,000.”

Overnight, craft groups had started in the US, Canada, South Africa, NZ and the UK. Knitters from Portugal, Belgium, Hong Kong and Singapore soon joined with children at schools in Minnesota, Ottawa, Missouri and Utah forming knitting, sewing and crocheting bees. All this within a few days!

Anna has since started the Global Craft Movement HQ F/book page so as to centralise all the activity. Information on international drop off locations is included on the page as well as information of the bush fire situation and the effect it is having on our native wildlife.

The online statics which have resulted from Anna’s action are truly amazing. Since she first accessed the ARCG site on January 3, that organisation’s group has grown from 37,000 to over 200,000. The Guild have since requested a temporary pause on any new craft projects so they can complete a stock take of what has been made and access what is still needed.

After seven days, Anna’s original post of patterns and information had reached 17.3 million people with 1.8 million talking about crafting to Save the Animals of the Australian Bush Fires and she had received over 14,000+ personal messages of support and requests for information.

Anna has changed the tone of the overwhelming sensation of despair to overwhelming love with many people around the world pulling out sewing machines and knitting needles to help out. It has prompted companies like Spotlight to have massive sales to anyone who is crafting for our animals in both Australia and New Zealand. There are groups of people, even children and husbands getting involved, many learning a new craft. Everyone is joining together in solidarity for the love of our country and animals – it’s a beautiful thing.

“The professionals are planning a global stock take of knitted pouches for koalas, kangaroos, wallabies and sugar gliders by Australia Day. Rescuing fire injured animals is a marathon not a sprint. There are a large number of animal rescue organisations out there who still need help…Mogo Zoo; The Koala Hospital Port Macquarie; The Agile Project, Natural Resources Kangaroo Island included. We are appealing to everyone who has made pouches to make sure they are delivered to one of our global hubs by January 26”.

Follow Anna on this journey