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Ginger Stratford, vice president of the Chester Wesleyan Church board of directors, stands next to a few examples of custom-made sundresses destined for a number of foreign countries to benefit disadvantage girls. Photo by Stacy Fisher

“Dress a Girl Around the World” campaign benefits disadvantaged girls

Ginger Stratford, vice president of the Wesleyan Church’s board of directors in Chester, said that the “Dress a Girl Around the World” is one of a number of charitable programs formed by Hope 4 Women International to empower women. They have branches located in every state and dozens of countries worldwide.

The campaign makes available an assortment of colorful sundresses for disadvantaged girls living in third-world countries — some of whom have been orphaned or abused.

Since its inception in 2006, the nondenominational independent Christian organization has sent hundreds of thousands of dresses to provide clothing for needy young girls, mostly to those living in countries in the African continent, as well as the South Pacific, Philippines, Uganda and Haiti.

Providing an ongoing opportunity for community members living in the Almanor basin area, Stratford has continued the organization’s mission within sewing groups at the church location or from individuals sewing at home.

Caring individuals in the community donate long stored materials and sewing supplies, she said, and also comes from members of the Chester Piecemakers Quilt Guild and the Country Pines Quilt Shop in Susanville.

Fabric needs to be 100-percent cotton and at least a one-yard cut.

Stratford said she’s also requesting cash donations from which fabric, lace, elastic, beads and rickrack can be included to embellish the dresses.

Additionally, new T-shirts to go under the dresses are purchased from monetary donations so that girls receiving them will have increased modesty while wearing the dresses.

Stratford said that typically more than a dozen women labor the better part of a year making the customized dresses.

She said the dresses consist of quality fabrics in a variety of colorful designs, ranging in size from size 2 to girls 14.

Stratford encourages anyone with basic sewing skills to considering volunteering their time fabricating dresses for the Dress a Girl program.

She added that anyone who doesn’t sew but is still interested in helping out with the many other tasks that are needed, like ironing or cutting fabric, for example, are welcome to join in.

Over the course of five years, sewing groups hosted by Wesleyan Church have donated around 900 dresses in all, with approximately 200 more planned for shipment in the next couple of months to the Dress A Girl collection center in Sacramento.

Stratford said that ladies who would like to participate but can’t always come to the Wesleyan Church location, can stop by and pick up prepared dress kits for people who would prefer to sew at home instead.

She encourages people who own a sewing machine to bring it to the Dress a Girl sew day on the third Saturday of every month from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lunch is provided during a break in activities.

Continuing, Stratford said, “We’re very grateful to the volunteers who are willing to share their time; coming from loving hearts who want to make this program succeed and make a positive difference in the world. It’s always a blessing to the girls who receive these dresses.”

Cash donations for fabric and sewing material may be mailed to P.O. Box 1305, Chester, CA 96020. Checks should be made out to Ginger Stratford.

For more information about the local sewing group call Stratford at 258-2409.

The Wesleyan Church is located at Frost Avenue and Gay Street in Chester.

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