NewsPositively Hampton Roads


Crafting for a cause: Norfolk woman sewing hundreds of pouches for injured wildlife in Australia

Posted at 2:16 PM, Jan 10, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - The numbers are hard to wrap your head around: A half a billion animals in Australia have been wiped out by the ongoing bushfires.

This has thousands of kangaroos, koalas and wombats in grave danger.

Now, more than 150,000 crafters worldwide are uniting, sewing items many of these marsupials need to recover.

"I can't put it in to words. What my daughter and I saw on TV is just heartbreaking," said Joani Gramm.

An animal lover Norfolk mom and military wife felt compelled to do something after seeing the animals being threatened each and every day.

"My husband told me about a Facebook group, American Rescue Crafters Connect, where those who sew are coming together to make pouches, and I slept two hours that night. I couldn't stop thinking about it," said Gramm.

Gramm taught herself to sew 12 years ago, and knew she had to help.

"I have the skills and the resources and support," said Gramm.

She printed off all the patterns on the American Rescue Crafters Connect group she needed to make pouches for the injured wildlife and raced to the thrift store. The pouches are for joeys and wallabies; they mimic the feeling of the baby being near their mother, making them feel safe, warm and comfortable.

"When we went to the toy section, my kids grabbed a bag of Barbies, and when they flipped it over there was a Steve Irwin doll. I started tearing up; I had goosebumps," Gramm explained.

A sign of sorts, or a needle in a haystack.

Related: Virginia Beach quilters hope to comfort mass shooting victims through new project

"He came home with me, and he has been my sewing buddy ever since," said Gramm

Steve Irwin the doll sits by her side through every single joey, wombat and koala pouch she makes. So far, Gramm has created more than 100 pouches and plans to continue to make hundreds more over the next two to three months.

"No matter what little you do, it counts. A lot of other people, helping another country at that - it's just so cool," said Gramm.

Click here for our full coverage on the deadly Australian bushfires.