SAINT JOHN, N.B. -- The wildfires raging throughout Australia are taking a devastating toll on the country’s animals, with an estimated one billion animals feared dead, and many more left injured.

Devastated by the haunting images of koalas with singed fur, possums with burnt paws, and charred kangaroo carcasses, some Saint John residents have broken out their crafting kits to create handmade items for the injured and displaced animals.

“There’s so many lost animals, so many,” says Melissa Beaupres, a teacher at Samuel-de-Champlain School in the city’s north end. “We need to help them out somehow.”

Champlain and some of her students spent their third period Thursday knitting and crocheting pouches to help animals affected by the fires.

The school is one of several organizations in the area accepting supplies for the animals, which will eventually be sent to the St. George Veterinary Clinic for shipment to Australia.

Janique Cormier is the organizer behind the local drive.

“I’m a big animal lover, so my heart went out for all those animals, as well as the people, so this is one way at least that we can actually offer our help, and it mends the heart a little bit better,” says Cormier.

For those who don’t know how to crochet or knit, but still want to contribute to the cause, Cormier says there is also a need for blankets, towels, and medical supplies.

“They can go to a pharmacy and get some gauze, they can get some bandages,” explains Cormier. “The list is actually on our Facebook page and we’ve listed out from the Australian Red Cross what it needs.”

She says New Brunswickers from other communities are also lending a helping hand.

“We have people from St. George, Point Lepreau, there’s also somebody in St. Stephen that’s taking donations as well, so we’re all going to gather in St. Stephen to bring it all together,” she says.

Maritimers who would like to make a monetary donation to assist Red Cross efforts in Australia can do so through the Canadian Red Cross.