San Diego

San Diego Family Sews Blankets for Australian Animals

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A San Diego military wife with an at-home sewing business is putting her products on the back burner so she can help wildlife impacted by the fires raging in Australia.

Karen Newberry runs her sewing business out of her living room and home schools her two daughters. Her business, Sew-Berry-Knit, normally makes vintage aprons. But Monday, that work is all on hold.

“Today is a lot different than normal,” says Newberry. “I put off everything that I normally sew.”

Instead, her daughters Madison, 12, and Rochelle, 8, are sewing bat wraps and sugar glider pouches.

The idea came from the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild – which regularly updates a list of high-priority items you can sew at home and donate to animals in Australia.

“I love animals,” says Rochelle. “They’re so nice to us, we basically don’t deserve them, and me being able to help them just puts a smile on my face.”

Like many around the world, Rochelle watched the news out of Australia – especially the images on animals scorched, injured and orphaned due to the wildfires. An estimated 480 million animals have died in the flames – and dozens more are overwhelming conservation workers.

“It just makes me cry and feel so sad,” says Rochelle. “I would buy all of those animals and take care of them.”

Since the Newberrys can’t buy all the animals – they can do this.

Already, friends and other groups on Facebook are sending in extra fabric for the Newberrys to sew and ship halfway around the world.

“Send fabric,” says Newberry. “Come over and sew with me. If you don’t know how to sew and don’t want to learn, cutting, ironing – all of that helps. If you have old sheets, as long as they’re clean, send them my way!”

“Just anything and everything helps,” says Madison, 12, Newberry’s oldest daughter.

Newberry hopes her daughters realize even small acts of kindness can go a long way.

“I hope that they learn that helping doesn’t have to be your next-door neighbor, your family or in your community,” says Newberry. “You can help the world and it will benefit all of us in turn.”

A lesson her daughters seem to be learning as gracefully as their stitch work.

“Seeing the happiness on their face when they have it,” says Madison. “That makes me feel good.”

If you want to send fabric to the Newberrys, you can call (269) 369-0754 or email

More information on the craft guild, including templates you can download to sew goods at home, can be found here.

More information regarding how you can help humans in Australia can be found here.

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