GREENVILLE — They say there are only six degrees of separation between social connections. However, for Shelley Miller, it is only one when it comes to the devastating bushfires in Australia.
Miller spent almost a decade in the land down under, first as an exchange student while a Greenville Senior High student (graduating class 1995) before attending university. She moved back to Ohio in 2004, but still has strong ties to Australia.
“I have my Aussie family and friends that I still communicate with,” explained Miller, who spent a month in Australia just two years ago.
As the disaster continues to unfold in Australia, including what was welcoming rains turned to flash floods, Miller felt compelled to help those “who can’t speak for themselves.”
In this case, thousands of animals injured or left orphaned by the fires that began in September. She first came across the Animal Rescue Craft Guild, a crafty group of individuals who make a variety of products that help with animal rescue. The guild requested slings and pouches to help with injured, rescued animals.
“I saw that and thought that’s perfect. I love to sew. I sew frequently,” said Miller. She noted Australia’s unique wildlife as one of her favorite things, from the spiders that gross people out, to the dangerous snakes, all the way to the cute and cuddly koalas.
However, “the eco-system will never be the same,” said Miller, with an estimated one billion animals to have perished.
The koala, in particular, was already facing problems, explained Miller, but now with their habitat damaged or gone, the marsupial may become endangered along with many other animals.
“It is going to take a long time to get them over the hump,” continued Miller, pointing out the needs of these animals will be a long commitment for caregivers.
The plan — gather volunteers together to sew pouches and slings from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Bible Fellowship Church, 7757 Greenville-Celina Road, Greenville.
Those who wish to help may bring a sewing machine (a few machines will be available upon walk-in). If unable to sew, volunteers can help trace and cut patterns or donate cotton, fleece, or flannel or other sewing notions.
Similar to an assembly line, Miller plans to make as many pouches and slings as possible that day and will have the items shipped to her Australian family for distribution. The latter of whom have connections to Kirsty’s Bird Sanctuary and Wildlife Rehabilitation in Minden, Queensland, Australia.
The biggest anticipated hurdle, according to Miller, will be the shipping expense. Those who wish to donate towards shipping costs may do so via the Go Fund Me page at the following: gf.me/u/xcyrix.
Several area companies have already helped with donated items, including precut pouches and shipping boxes.
Miller, with a background that includes photography and who enjoys graphic design, is also working on unique decals to sell during the fundraiser, with all proceeds to go towards shipping expenses.
“This is my way to help,” said Miller. “This is what I want to do to help.”
For more information, contact Shelley Miller at (937) 459-2811 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email email@example.com. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.