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Kathy Michael works at her sewing machine at Wesleyan Church, producing dresses for underprivileged girls in foreign countries.

Local sewing group seeks volunteers for “Dress a Girl Around the World” campaign

From left: Ginger Stratford, vice president of the Chester Wesleyan Church board of directors; Barbara Scally; Marilyn Thurgood; and Kathy Michael sort custom-made dresses destined for disadvantage girls in faraway lands. Photos by Stacy Fisher

“Dress a Girl Around the World” is a charitable campaign under Hope 4 Women International, a program with branches located worldwide.

The program seeks to provide colorful sundresses for disadvantaged girls living in developing countries who may never have had a dress before — some of whom have been orphaned or abused, stated Ginger Stratford, vice president on the Wesleyan Church’s board of directors in Chester.

Since its inception in 2006, the nondenominational independent Christian organization has sent hundreds of thousands of dresses to dozens of third-world countries to provide clothing for needy young girls.

Stratford has continued that mission by providing an ongoing opportunity for community members living in the Basin Area to make dresses within sewing groups at the church location or at home.

“It’s a wonderful mission project,” Stratford said, with many people donating fabric to the sewing group from their long stored materials.

She said she’s also requesting cash donations from which fabrics, lace, elastic, rickrack and other sewing supplies used to embellish the dresses can be purchased. Donated fabric needs to be 100 percent cotton and at least one yard cut, Stratford noted.

Additionally, new or clean T-shirts to go under the dresses are needed so that girls receiving them will have increased modesty while wearing the dresses. People in the community who would like to donate T-shirts can contact Stratford to arrange a time to drop off the shirts.

More than a dozen women labor the better part of a year making as many as 100 or more customized dresses, she said of the Wesleyan volunteers.

The dresses consist of quality fabrics in a variety of colorful patterns, ranging in size from infant to girl size 14.

Stratford encourages anyone with basic sewing skills to join the sewing group, “but those who don’t sew but are 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.”

She said people who own a sewing machine can bring it to the sewing group, “or just show up,” Stratford said, adding that lunch is also provided during a break.

“Ladies who would like to participate but can’t always come to our location at Wesleyan Church, we prepare dress kits for people to pick up who would like to sew at home instead.”

Continuing, Stratford said, “All this has come from loving hearts, from women who want to make this program succeed and make a positive difference in the world,” adding that the sewing group is about to send 100 dresses to the “Dress A Girl” collection center in Sacramento in the next couple of weeks.

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.

Also check out: dressagirlaroundtheworld.com.

The Wesleyan Church, located at Frost Avenue and Gay Street in Chester, invites volunteers to make original dresses every third Saturday of the month. The next sewing group is scheduled Saturday, April 21, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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