Girl Scouts sew pillowcase dresses for African girls
By Patricia Bogumil
While the idea of slipping on a pillowcase dress sounds a bit unusual, in Africa young girls are proud to be walking around in a million of them.
Saturday afternoon, a group of 15 Waterford Girl Scouts in Troop 5957 worked together on 150 pillowcase dresses that will soon make their way to Little Dresses for Africa.
It is a non-profit Christian ministry that already has sent millions of hand-sewn pillowcase dresses to needy girls in Africa – and around the world – who otherwise would wear nothing but rags on their backs.
“The whole purpose of this project is to help people,” said 10-year-old Stella Lobacz, who was busy cutting material with friends in the Evergreen Elementary School library.
“It’s all about being a Girl Scout and helping each other,” she explained.
Saturday, Stella and the other Scouts were assisted by nearly a dozen moms, grandmas, and friends of moms and grandmas who brought in sewing machines to the Evergreen library to help out with the project.
Most of the 15 girls in Troop 5957 have been together for six years. They are working towards earning their bronze award, which is the highest award a junior Girl Scout can earn, explained Kari Strobel, who organized the dresses project with Scout leaders Mandy Fiehweg and Dawn Bleimehl.
Using flyers handed out to family members and neighbors, the girls recently collected enough donated pillowcases, ribbon, thread, lace and monetary donations to craft 150 pillowcase dresses for their project.
Depending on the level of sewing skill, the little dresses can be made plain and simple, or gussied up with lace, pockets and other niceties.
Nancy’s Notions, a sewing shop in Beaver Dam, will ship Troop 5957’s finished dresses to the Little Dresses organization in Michigan, which will then send them on to where they are most needed.
“We have sent out hundreds of thousands of these dresses in the last three or four years, and I know that over a million dresses have been sent all over the world,” said Ellen Decker, who answered the phone Saturday afternoon while working in the retail store at Nancy’s Notions.
“This is an amazing story of multiplication that is way beyond us,” she said.
More information about the Little Dresses international project is available online at the website www.littledressesforafrica.org.
“We offer relief to both girls and boys but with our ministry, girls come first,” the group explains on its web site.
The group also collects boys’ shorts in any size, whether new or gently used, to send with the girls’ dresses.