Marilyn Nolte, left, Cheryl Olson and Sandra Cass make dresses from pillowcases. The Pilot/Lorna Rodriguez
Snip, hiss, hum went the scissors, irons and sewing machines last Saturday afternoon at Living Waters Foursquare Church as women cut fabric, ironed it, and sewed it into dresses, skirt sets and pants.
These particular clothes are for children in Appalachia, Ghana, Nicaragua and Uganda.
The clothes are being made as part of Dress a Girl Around the World, a ministry sponsored by the nonprofit Hope 4 Women International. Dress a Girl works to clothe women and children.
The Brookings group was started in July 2010 by Cheryl Olson, the Southern Oregon representative of Dress a Girl and a member of Foursquare Church.
“It was when I found the significance of what it meant to a girl to have a new dress,” that Olson decided to become involved. “It just amazed me (what) a dress (could) do ... for a little girl, and it seemed like it would be a worthwhile cause to get involved with.”
This past year, Brookings volunteers made nearly 300 dresses, skirt sets and pants.
It takes 90 minutes to make a dress, 30 to make a pair of pants and 10 to make a skirt set, Olson said.
Once the clothes are complete, the label “Hope 4 Women International, www.h4wi.org” is sewn in. The label is a form of protection, Olson explained, because men will not touch a girl knowing that she is protected by an American.
“It gives added protection, added security and dignity to have a dress of their own,” she said. “The motto in Uganda is, ‘If you teach a woman, you educate a family.’ ”
All of clothes are made from new or gently used pillowcases and T-shirts. The Brookings group is mainly funded by donation.
About 13 people, including Sandra Cass and Marilyn Nolte, volunteer their time.
“I’m always the type of person who likes to help out,” Cass said. “I’m not a sewer but I learned. I realized I can sew. Not perfect, but you learn every day. It’s fun.”
Nolte has volunteered since the beginning.
“I know Cheryl (Olson), and she told us about her desire to dress these girls,” Nolte said. “I like to sew, and I like to help people. It’s my contribution to poor people in the world. It’s fun creating something that can maybe help somebody.
“I like being creative for a purpose. It’s being creative, and it’s knowing that it’s going to help somebody, and it’s not just for yourself.”
All of the volunteers have their own niche. Some cut fabric. Others like to sew. And some do a bit of everything.
Volunteers have picked up on the little details as well.
A strap is safer than a tie, and buttons, trim and similar embellishments help dress up plain pillowcases.
“It’s a creative bunch,” Olson said of the group.
The nationwide Dress a Girl Around the World was started in 2009 by Rachel Eggum-Cinader, the director of Hope 4 Women International.
Since then, more than 61,000 dresses have been sent to 56 countries, Eggum-Cinader said.
“Sometimes little ministries take on their own life, and that’s what happened,” she said. “Our goal this year is to deliver 100,000 dresses.”
The Brookings group meets from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. the third Saturday of every month at Living Waters Foursquare Church, 1136 Fifield St., Brookings.