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Kenmore high school student sewing gifts of hope for fire-ravaged Australia

Mt. St. Mary's Academy
Junior Emma Candella with a joey pouch. She has led a unique and passionate effort to help the animals displaced by the fires in Australia.

As the world is watching the bushfire crisis in Australia, one local teenager 10,000 miles away has stepped up to make a difference. "It was important to me because I wanted to help with animals somehow," said Mount St. Mary Academy junior Emma Candella, "because you always see sad things on the news, on the internet, about fires, stuff like that, and you don't know how you can help."

Seeing the disaster as a call to action, the Kenmore teen decided to sit at her sewing machine to make over 135 "joey pouches" in just two weeks. The pouches cradle orphaned baby kangaroos and koalas, who need the warmth of a mother’s pouch.

The pouches are made from donated fabric, simple things like old t-shirts and bed sheets. She also had help from her classmates, who helped cut and prepare donated fabric.

"I'm good with sewing. It takes about five minutes for me to make one," Candella said. "I was able to teach some of the girls here. I taught them some simple things about how to sew and they were able to make some of the pouches."

A particular group of the academy's STEAM classes joined the effort, after some encouragement from Candella during a morning assembly.

Candella this week sent the first batch of pouches to the Relief Crafters of America, which will now send them to Australia. The fires there are being called the worst on record for native animals.

"I hope that people realize that it doesn't take a lot to make a difference,” she said.

Emyle Watkins is an investigative journalist covering disability for WBFO.
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