Sew-a-thons at private homes and sewing meetups

(LOOMIS, CA) – Nearly one year ago, 55 Soroptimist International (SI) clubs across northern California and Nevada were challenged by the Sierra Nevada region Governor Vicki Watson to support the “Dress a Girl Around the World” project. Debi Schneider, Loomis club president, took up the challenge and pledged that the local club would make 300 dresses.

As a result of overwhelming support from club members, theirs friends and family, other community organizations and many businesses, the club has made 470 dresses, reported Schneider. “Many of these girls are receiving a brand new dress for the very first time in their lives,” said Schneider. “The gift of a dress tells the girl that she is important. Additionally, she is less likely to be victimized because the label in the dress shows that she is being watched over by someone who cares.” The dresses are hand carried by people to orphanages and girls in need across the United States and throughout the world. The organization that sponsors Dress a Girl Around the World, Hope 4 Women International, has delivered one million dresses to 81 countries.

Vicki Watson, Governor, SI Sierra Nevada Region, reported at the region’s 42nd Annual Conference held in April that 43 out of 55 Soroptimist clubs participated and together sewed 4003 dress plus gave over $1818 in donations. “Our collaboration with Hope4Women on their Dress A Girl Around the World was a perfect fit,” said Watson. “It provided us with a mission-based project with multiple ways to participate. The big, no huge, unforeseen bonus was the ‘community involvement’ in our efforts. Clubs had other groups sewing, cutting and donating to Soroptimist for this project.”

The dresses are made of pretty cotton prints and each dress is individualized with contrasting trim and pockets. “The dresses are so cute that everyone enjoys making them,” said Schneider. “Once the fabric is cut out, it only takes an hour or two to make. It is a very satisfying project to work on, at many levels.” The Loomis club also made cloth dolls to insert in one pocket and enclosed a pair of underpants in the other pocket.

To make the dresses, the Loomis club held sew-a-thons at private homes and sewing meetups at Hacker Lab powered by Sierra College in Rocklin. Those, who didn’t know how to sew, learned sewing skills and helped with cutting and ironing, explained Schneider. “People shared the dresses that they made on Facebook, and pretty soon dresses were being made in other parts of the country by sisters and friends,” said Schneider. “Some women sewed more than 10 dresses each. Other women sewed when it was quiet in their office. Several men helped as well. A ninety year old seamstress did beautiful scalloping of every hem on the dresses she made. We gave volunteers ‘kits’ of pre-cut fabric, buttons and trim. Several seamstresses used the ‘kit’ as a pattern and made more dresses from their own store of material.”

The community support was gratifying according to Schneider. “Every inch of fabric was donated,” said Schneider. “Businesses and organizations shared kits with their members and two Loomis churches hand-delivered dresses. We are grateful for the support of The Loomis Senior L.I.F.E. Center, The Loomis Quilt Guild, Hacker Lab powered by Sierra College, Kids Can Sew, Secret Ravine Winery, Barstool Outlet, Sacramento Weavers and Spinners, Nor Cal Retrobirds, Dog and Whistle Goose Control and First Methodist Church of Loomis for helping to make the dresses.”

According to Schneider, 220 of the dresses made through the Loomis Soroptimist club have already been distributed to Costa Rica and Mexico by local church members. “Everyone’s enthusiasm for this project has been incredible,” said Schneider. “People responded so positively to the opportunity to make a difference in young girls’ lives by sharing their talents. There was a wonderful feeling of community to be working on this worthwhile project together.”

Visitors are welcome to learn more about the Sorpotimist International club in Loomis at meetings held on the first and third Wednesday of the month at the Train Deport at 5:30 PM to 7 PM. Soroptimist (soroptimist.org) is an international volunteer service organization for business, professional and retired women who work to improve the lives of women and girls, in local communities and throughout the world. Soroptimist International of Loomis Basin (www.soroptimistloomis.com) is a 501(c)(3) organization.