Almost as soon as he arrived at an aged-care village, Alfred Date was told by the nurses who knew of his ability to knit that the Phillip Island Penguin Foundation was in need of sweaters for animals.

That’s how the incredible 109 year old Alfie, who’s first attempt at knitting was a whopping 80 years ago — began his road to knitting loads of sweaters for little penguins. The following are some photos of penguins rocking hand-knit sweaters.
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Little penguin (Eudyptula minor) wearing a hand-knit sweater. Photo courtesy Lyn Blom of Phillip Island Nature Parks.

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The Penguin Foundation makes it clear on their website that this call for sweaters is “not a fashion statement,” but that penguins can actually be killed by an oil patch the size of a thumb nail. A thumb nail! Holy smokes. I didn’t know this.

When oiled penguins are admitted to the Wildlife Clinic at Phillip Island Nature Parks, a knitted jumper is placed on the penguins to prevent them from preening and swallowing the toxic oil before they are washed and the oil removed by staff, ” a statement on their website says.

The little bird sweaters knitted by Mr. Alfred and others helped save many lives of the Phillip Island penguins. The sweaters made it possible for 96% of the birds to be returned safely back to the wild, said the foundation.

You can watch the interview with Mr. Alfred here.

What an inspiration Alfred is! Not only to knitters and other yarn-crafters, but to humanity as a whole, if you ask me. We may not all be able to donate, say, monetarily, but everyone has their own thing they can do to have an immensely positive impact on the world. It may be your handy-skills like Mr. Alfred, or it may be that you’re able to donate cash. It’s true that every one of us have something special to give, whether it’s to help our fellow humans or animals. Mr. Alfred’s story warmed my heart so much that I felt compelled to share what was a beautiful reminder to me — that we all have something to give, even those who may feel like they’re too far along in life to bother.

While the Penguin Foundation no longer has a need for sweaters, they are asking for donations with their “Adopt-A-Penguin” project where for $75+, you can adopt a penguin.

The Penguin Foundation aren’t the only ones to recognize, and fulfill wildlife’s needs by use of knitting. Take for example, the Wild Care Bay Area’s Baby Bird Nest campaign where 3,568 little bird nests were knitted to keep the baby birds warm in 2014!

Click here to see a video of these adorable little fellas enjoying their hand-knitted nests, and being bottle-fed, which is totally aww-worthy.

Knitted Baby Bird Nests for WildCareBayArea.org Campaign  Image source: https://www.wildcarebayarea.org
Knitted Baby Bird Nests for WildCareBayArea.org Campaign
Image source: https://www.wildcarebayarea.org

These folks are another example of combining human compassion with handy skills as a way to help wildlife in need. Like the Penguin Foundation, the Baby Bird Nest group also ran a successful campaign to warm up baby birds by calling for knitted beds! How beautiful is that?

While the Baby Bird groups is no longer in need of bird nests, although their website says they do plan to start the campaign for more nests this year — they still have the free instructions for knitting the nests available on their website, if anyone is interested in knitting a basket for their own pets, or those of your friends. Just be sure to make them bigger since a cat is typically much larger than a baby bird. One of the most common requests I get, as a knitter and crocheter is pet beds, as shocking as that is. Even I am surprised to get the request so often.

I think the little nests the birds are snuggling up inside are so adorable, and quite a genius idea! I’d have never thought of this, and I can see these also being an idea to incorporate for other in-need animals as well. I can only imagine the love a cat would have for one of these cute baskets!

I also happen to know that during the cold winter months, homeless animals like cats need shelter, and a lot of animal-groups put calls out around winter time asking folks to provide shelter methods for homeless cats, if they can. I recall seeing one lady’s beautiful, hard work in this exact area last winter. Perhaps this is something we can add to our arsenal of tools to help warm our fellow furry friends.

She had made it her mission to put together little cat homes for homeless cats in her area. She used those large plastic tubs you can get at Walmart or any dollar store for around $5-$10, filling them with warm materials, including those silver “things” made to be placed in the windshield of cars (to help hold in heat to keep kitties warm). Leaving the lid on the tubs, she placed them around areas she knew to be common for homeless cats.

The effort, love, compassion and work that goes into doing something like this for animals (and our fellow humans as well) has such a lasting impact on my heart. It really inspires me, and I hope that it will inspire you too, and warm your heart to no end.

What are some ways you (or stories you know of) have donated your handy-skills or time and effort to help animals and/or humans in need? Please share in the comments. I absolutely love hearing uplifting stories like these.



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