When Elaine Dawson came across a Facebook page seeking crafters who could sew, knit and crochet to help injured and orphaned animals in Australia, she knew she could help.
As a life-long knitter and crocheter, she was well versed in sewing crafts, having learned the skills from her mother and grandmother.
Dawson has worked at Old Dominion University for over 30 years and is the director of information technology and data analysis in the Office of the Registrar. For the past seven years, she has also worked part time at Baa Baa Sheep in Ghent, a craft and yarn store. She calls it "her other dream job."
Dawson knits or crochets every day after work. "I'm really detail oriented, so it is an easy transition (from her data analyst position)," she said.
The Facebook page, published by the Animal Rescue Collective Craft Guild, featured a baby koala in a handmade pouch. "They needed things to put baby animals in," Dawson said. "It just tears at your heart."
Among the needs were hanging bags for kangaroos, joey pouches, nests, bat wraps and koala mittens.
Dawson first visited the site a few months ago and immediately began crocheting pouches and nests. At the time, the page had about 500 members. Today, there are more than 230,000.
"Suddenly, everyone and their grandmother were sewing, knitting and crocheting to help," Dawson said. "It was a worldwide effort."
The response from crafters was so overwhelming that the organization pleaded for people to stop sending items and to donate financially instead.
Dawson and other crafters won't let all that work go to waste, though. She hopes to keep the momentum of crafting items for rescue animals and turn it into a local effort.
Directing people to local resources and needs "seems like the next logical step," Dawson said.
Baa Baa Sheep is creating a collective list of local animal rescue organizations and their needs. "Almost all the shelters need blankets," Dawson said.
The list will be posted on the Baa Baa Sheep Friends group on Ravelry.com, a free social networking website for those who knit, crochet and spin yarn.
The group page notes: "A movement has begun and we are a part of it."