Pocketful of compassion College of Charleston theater students make pouches for orphaned kangaroos

College of Charleston theater professor Joshua Bond’s explains to students Thursday how to sew joey pouches.

Instead of working on costumes for the latest production, College of Charleston theater students Thursday were cutting and sewing cotton pouches for baby kangaroos orphaned by the recent bushfires in South Australia.

About 15 students, who major in theater with a concentration in costume design and technology, were responding to an urgent call from the International Fund for Animal Welfare asking for cotton pouches for baby kangaroos, wallabies and other marsupials orphaned by fires.

Professor Joshua Bond said that he learned about the suffering baby marsupials and the need for pouches from a national news program, and it sparked an idea. His students were going to have to sew a simple sample garment as part of lesson on taking a costume design through the production process. He pitched the idea to students that they make pouches instead. They loved the idea, he said.

“This is exciting because we’re actually contributing something,” said Lauren Ward, a junior. She was one the students who were ironing neat, quarter-inch edges, and pinning and sewing seams.

Statistics aren’t yet available for the 2014-2015 bushfire season, which runs from June through May. But it’s expected to be a busy season because of warm, dry weather and low rainfall.

One fire, which raged in the Adelaide Hills from Jan. 2-8, destroyed 31,000 acres. More than a hundred people were injured and hundreds of animals were killed, according to news reports.

Bond said the International Fund for Animal Welfare had patterns for the pouches on its website. His students will complete 50 of them in five different sizes, and then send them to the fund’s Australia office.

The pouches must be made from 100 percent cotton sheets and blankets, he said. College faculty members donated all of the materials.

The fund first had put out a call for people to make little mittens for koalas whose paws were burned in the fires. That effort was so successful that, earlier this month, it turned its attention to bringing in joey pouches.

The pouches line a warm, fleece outer covering. Pouches must be changed after each feeding, and marsupials are fed up to six times a day.

Peter Spearman, a junior at the college, said he liked being able to help. “We’re actually doing something practical, he said.

Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.