Albany Options School teacher Holly Mitchell first saw the call on Facebook. 

There was an effort by Animal Rescue Craft Guild to encourage knitters around the world to create and send materials to help the millions of animals left orphaned and injured by the wildfires raging in Australia.

Mitchell knew how to knit and she's currently teaching a sewing class at AOS.  "I told the kids about it and they were like, 'Yeah, let's do it, we have to do this,'" she said. 

Last Friday, the class of 10 started sewing pouches for baby kangaroos and wallabies — a feat, considering the students came into the class a month ago without knowing how to sew a stitch. 

AOS has six-week terms and four weeks ago, Mitchell said, the students started to learn basic stitches and a bit on the sewing machine. Before learning about the opportunity to help Australia, they were working on simple aprons from a pattern. 

"They were learning the skills they need to make the pouches," she said. "They can cut out the pattern and do the simple stitch."

So far, there are 10 semi-completed pouches after two classes worth of work. 

"We're doing this assembly-line style," Mitchell said. 

Each students knows how to complete every step of the pouch and may be responsible for a different part of the project in the assembly line each class period. 

"It just depends on who is in class that day and what order they're in," Mitchell said. 

Prior to starting the sewing last Friday, the class worked on a bulletin board of information about the fires that have consumed the news cycle as they continue to spread across Australia. 

"They're learning where the fires started, where they are and what damage they're causing," Mitchell said. 

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As of last week, more than 30,000 square miles had burned in Australia since the fires started in September. 

Mitchell's class plans to send, hopefully, 40 pouches to Australia though it's dependent on two things: getting more material and the price of shipping. 

The inside of the pouches have to be a natural material, like cotton. Currently, the class is using scraps from its other projects but Mitchell said she'll need to pick up more material to finish. 

AOS administration has already agreed to pay for at least some of the shipping, but Mitchell said she's unsure of the cost and that it may be high. 

"I'm not sure what it is," she said. "I'll just pay the rest myself."

The class is set to continue sewing pouches until next week, when they'll package them up and send them off. 

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