A Fire Island student recently helped local felines in need by sewing 100 catnip toys.
Olivia Asaro-Apsley, a sixth-grader at Woodhull Elementary School in Ocean Beach, created the 8-inch toys over the course of about two months using items including tie-dyed fabric, cotton and a sewing machine. She then donated the colorful playthings to John Debacker, a local animal rescuer and animal rights advocate.
Olivia, 11, tackled the task as part of her Girl Scout Bronze Award. She is a member of Troop 1189.
"I wanted to help animals, so me and my mom researched a few options," said Olivia, whose family has two cats and a guinea pig, named Cocoa. "I learned how to sew a few years ago, so I thought it would be a good choice to pick this type of project."
To create the toys, Olivia said she first cut the fabric into long strips and then sewed the pieces of fabric together to make a pocket before filling it with catnip and stuffing. Her mother, Jennifer, purchased the craft materials from JoAnn Fabric and Crafts.
Olivia also plays flute in her school's band and is the sixth-grade representative for the Student Council. In addition, she has appeared in stage productions through local theater companies and participates in competitive dance through Kovacs Studio of Dance in Brightwaters.