We had a lovely visit from Maureen and her husband. They are faithful supporters of LDFA and come by and drop dresses when they come back from Florida each year. This group was part of the “LDFA Fashion Show” at JD Parker School in Florida. These precious 2nd graders learned about Africa and helping others and display their little dresses in the photo here.
Taken March 2013
Chris Macourek caught a segment on the national news a few years back about a nonprofit that sends simple dresses to needy girls in Africa.Her husband had died about six months before, and “I thought doing some volunteer work would be good therapy,” she told the Herald.It’s turned out to be more than that. The Richland woman and a team of faithful Tri-City area seamstresses are on the cusp of sending off their 3,000th dress to the Michigan-based Little Dresses for Africa, which distributes the garments to orphanages, churches and schools.They expect to hit the milestone and then some in June. “It’s been amazing,” Macourek said. “We know there’s some little girl in the world who’s never had a decent piece of clothing, but can have a brand new dress (because of our work).”Since it formed, Little Dresses for Africa has received more than 1.5 million dresses total, sending them off to 43 African countries as well as other parts of the world — “in times of crisis or when asked” — from Cambodia to the Appalachian Mountains, according to its website, www.littledressesforafrica.org.Macourek coordinates the local sewing effort, mailing off the cotton dresses to the Michigan nonprofit every few months.The latest shipment of 300-plus dresses brought the group’s tally to more than 2,800.Macourek said gifts of fabric and money for shipping always seem to come through. “I tell people, when you do something from your heart, God opens up the doors,” she said.The local sewing crew numbers about 40 and volunteers work at their own pace.Jane Horton of Richland has made scores of dresses since she read an article in the Herald two years ago about Macourek’s effort and arranged to help. The patterns are simple, she said. She’s retired — “at 90, I should be,” she said — and needed a project that drew her interest.”It makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I’m not just doing stuff; I’m contributing to something,” she said. “It’s not wasted time.”Horton said she may sell her house and move to a retirement home — but it will need to have room for her sewing machine. “I definitely want to continue,” she said.To become a seamstress or provide a gift of cotton fabric (at least 11/2 yards) or shipping money, email Macourek at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many thanks for the donation from the Nashville Alumnae chapter of The Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Little Dresses for Africa was grateful to be represented by Frankie Gunter, sister of Rachel O’Neill, the Founder of LDFA, at the recent Founders Day Luncheon. Frankie, a resident of Tennessee, is shown in the first photo accepting the dresses from the Sorority on before of LDFA. Shown in the second picture is the Chairperson of the International Awareness & Involvement Committee, Kathy Howard and Marion Southall-White, Co-Chair of the Committee. Thank you, Delta Sigma Theta, Frankie Gunter, and Nashville! Together, we really can make a difference, one little dress at a time!
By Rachel Hill – ReminderNews
East Hartford – posted Thu., Sep. 13, 2012
Donna Fletcher shows one of the finished products at the ‘Little Dresses for Africa’ event at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church. Photos by Rachel Hill.
Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference, and big ideas can come from simplicity. For instance, did you know that a regular household pillowcase can be easily transformed into a dress with a few minor alterations? And what if a needy girl in Africa received this as a gift from you and all it took was a little effort and some materials you may already have on hand?
A workshop with this in mind was held on Sept. 6 at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in an initiative called “Little Dresses for Africa.” With four-step instructions for how to make a dress out of a pillowcase, lots of volunteers turned out to help, bringing their skill and imagination to create something special for girls in Africa who aren’t lucky enough to have a closet full of clothes to choose from every day.
Some of the volunteers in attendance have been sewing their whole life and this project was the perfect outlet for demonstrating their handiwork while helping contribute to a worthy cause.
Eileen Burnham belongs to an arts and crafts club and said she loves the idea of giving her time to Little Dresses for Africa. Elisa Testa said that sewing has been passed down to her through generations in her family. “This is an opportunity to give back and think of others,” she said.
Maureen Pirrello added, “The time and effort spent here today goes a long way. It shows that somebody cares. You can never give too much.”
And the process of creating the dresses couldn’t be easier. A few cuts and stitching, and you’ve made an article of clothing for someone who will forever appreciate the kindness. There were also plenty of materials provided for adding little embellishments to the dresses, from lace trim to coordinating bands of fabric or even embroidery.
The Rev. Roberta Williams talked about seeing the dresses delivered to Africa via the internet. “It’s the greatest thing,” she said. “There’s no end to the need. This is a tangible, visual way of knowing that people care.”
For more information about upcoming events for Little Dresses for Africa, contact Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church at 860-528-0577 or visit www.wesleymemorialeh.org.
By MaryHelen Swanson
“We’re not just sending dresses, we’re sending HOPE!” is the motto of Little Dresses for Africa, a non-profit organization that desires to make little girls in Africa feel worthy through the gift of a pretty sundress.
A group of local church women have that same desire, and find they really enjoy making these simple dresses for little girls they will never know or see.
Sewers pictured with the colorful dresses are (l to r): Anita, Carol, Shirley, Lynn, Shirley, Della, Joan. Not pictured: Marian, Lois, Marilyn, Vickie and Peggy. The dresses were made from pillowcases and fabric yardage, with bits of lace, ribbon and ruffles and lots of love. Photo supplied
Anita Ryberg of Harris, a member of First Lutheran Church of Harris (but organist at Salem Lutheran of Oxford), got this project started last year when she heard about it on Sewing with Nancy and through her embroidery groups. She checked out the Little Dresses for Africa website. There she learned how simple it was to sew the dresses from pillow cases as well as how appreciated the dresses are by the little girls who receive them.
She got a group of women stirred up about the project and they had great fun making 73 dresses that were taken to Wasa, Tanzania.
Let’s do it again
The women found it to be such an exciting project that they decided to do it again this year and will be sending more dresses with Ryberg who is making the trip to Africa with a mission group from the Fish Lake church later this month.
Along with the 70 dresses made locally, Ryberg will also be delivering 37 dresses from a group of women in Nebraska. The group found Ryberg’s name through a WELCA magazine and contacted her asking if she would take their dresses to Africa too.
The dresses are distributed through the orphanages, churches and schools. However, Ryberg will not be able to see the little girls as they receive their dresses as they are distributed in very remote areas and carried there by pastors.
That’s a lot of little girls
The websites notes that to date the non-profit has received over one million little dresses and donations from all 50 states, as well as from the UK, Canada, Mexico and Australia.
Besides Africa, dresses have also been sent to other countries in crisis such as Honduras, Guatemala, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mexico and thousands and thousands to Haiti.
The dresses have also been sent to children in need right here in the United States, in the Appalachian Mountains and South Dakota.
“More importantly,” the website notes, “than how many have been shipped, are the lives that they have touched as these little dresses go out as little ambassadors in the name of Jesus, to give hope to the children that receive them.”
Last Sunday there was a dedication service of the dresses destined for Africa at Salem Lutheran Church of Oxford.
Ryberg said people ask, “How many dresses do they need?”
She answers, “All of them.”
How you can participate
Little Dresses for Africa is a non-profit 501c3, Christian organization “changing lives one little dress at a time…..”
There are many ways to provide help… from starting or hosting your own sewing group, sizing and packing little dresses, or donating financially toward shipping costs.
To ensure that they actually get to the children, the majority of the dresses are sent with mission teams from the United States as they travel on their missions, for personal distribution.
Little Dresses for Africa hosts a team once a year to deliver the little dresses to the grateful and excited little girls that need them so desperately.
Donations to help in shipping and delivering costs are appreciated. It costs an average of $2/dress to get the dresses to the children.
Want to sew some pretty dresses for little girls?
Simple patterns are available at the website www.littledressesforafrica.org or feel free to use your own pattern, if you prefer.
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