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BY RACHEL JOHNSON
The desire to make a difference for the youth of Haiti led one local church to break out sewing machines.
Earlier this year, it was placed upon the heart of Big Macedonia Church senior mission director Dale Williams to reach out to the people of Haiti. At the time, she wasn’t sure what mission project the church should undertake.
In May, Georgia Bowden, young adult mission department president, read a newspaper article about the Women’s Club in Southport making pillowcase dresses for young girls in Haiti.
“I saw and read the article and thought what a wonderful idea for our church to tackle. We were so inspired by the article that we wanted to do something to help the little girls of Haiti. We found out from the internet that girls aren’t allowed to wear T-shirts to church in Haiti, and we want to help them be able to go to church,” Bowden said. “We started in August because we wanted them (the dresses) to be on the way to Haiti before Thanksgiving.”
“I was elated when she (Bowden) brought the project to us,” Williams said. “We all work together, and this is an excellent opportunity.”
Once the project was announced, it was well received by the church’s congregation. Mission project organizers originally hoped for 50 to 100 dresses.
“Fifty to 100 was the goal and at the time I didn’t believe we would ever be able to go over 100,” Bowden said. “We know of about 150 that will be done by the deadline, and there are more people making them that we don’t even know about. It’s really blossoming.”
The 150-dress mark is well within range for the women of Big Macedonia Baptist Church. Deaconess Linda Williams has already completed 83 dresses on her own and has patterns cut for an additional two more.
“I hadn’t sewed in 10 years,” she said. “Every time I made one, it motivated me to make another so the girls can go to church.”
Linda Williams isn’t the only one who has taken the project to heart. Eighty-six-year-old Mimie Frazier, mother of the church, has completed at least 18 dresses since September and plans to sew until the mid-November deadline.
“A lot of love has gone into this project,” Bowden said.
These aren’t your typical dresses—they are called pillowcase dresses. As the name suggests, many of them are made from standard pillowcases. However, some of the women have adapted the pattern to fit with pieces of fabric they have on hand.
“I have only used three pillowcases out of 83,” Linda Williams said. “When you use a pillowcase, you don’t have to hem the bottom. I went by the pattern but used other fabric.”
Williams and the others have added extra touches to the dresses by attaching buttons, pockets, lace and patches. The straps are either made from ribbon or additional material. The church family has become involved in the project through making donations to aid in the shipping costs, and some have even hired others to sew dresses for them.
“Mimie Frazier and her daughter Dale Williams, Tammy Jenkins, Ola Frank, Helen Bellamy, Linda Williams, Miranda Johnson, Eva Smith, Pastor Leo Stevenson and the church family have all been so helpful in this mission project,” said Bowden. “God has been in this all the way. We want other groups to get involved.”
On Saturday, Nov. 13, Big Macedonia Church will hold an open house starting at 3 p.m. for the public to view the dresses before they are sent to Haiti. During the open house, Pastor Stevenson will offer a prayer of blessing for the dresses and the Haitian people. The entire community is invited to attend the open house to meet the seamstresses and view the dresses.
“We want the public to come in and see this work and inspire them to help,” Bowden said. “We hope other groups get inspired like we are.”
Big Macedonia Baptist Church is located at 409 Big Macedonia Road in Supply. For a pattern, visit www.jenleheny.com/pillowcase-dress-instructions. If anyone has completed pillowcase dresses to be included in the shipment to Haiti, you may bring them to the open house.