HUBBARD - Several sewing groups and individuals in the Mahoning Valley have been making dresses for children in Haiti as part of an effort called "Little Dresses for Haiti."
Avis Mathews of Hubbard, coordinator of the local dresses project as well as a sock puppet effort, said the group is working with Lifeline Christian Mission to get the dresses shipped to Haiti.
Mathews said three to four cargo crates will be shipped with various items to Haiti. The dresses will first be taken to Westerville, from where they are then shipped.
"Each dress includes a special note on it to help keep track of where the dresses go," she said.
Mathews showed several examples of the dresses which are sizes 2 to 6 for small girls, as well as patterns and colors and styles that can be made.
The group met recently at Corner House Church in Hubbard where those who have made dresses gathered.
"We are very appreciative of the effort of these women and the many dresses they are able to make," she said.
Mathews said as the children outgrow the dresses they can be worn as tops.
Stella Pitman of Youngstown has made more than 100 dresses. She and other local women meet at the First Presbyterian Church in Youngstown where a special room has been set up for the women to make the dresses.
"What we like the most is having fun doing this together," she said.
Edna White of Youngstown also made many dresses and found small stuffed animals to send as well.
"There have been times where I have sewed all night long. I know what I am doing will help the children," she said.
Mathews said many people have donated completed dresses or the washable fabric which is used to make them.
"The dresses can help make a little girl's life much more enjoyable. You can use buttons and bows and bright colors. Have fun with this," she said.
The Corner House Church will become a drop-off location.
She advised those making dresses to avoid holiday theme items.
Ellen Saker of St. Mary's Church in Warren said she was thrilled to be part of the effort.
"This is a wonderful project. I have helped make blankets and now I am helping to make dresses," she said.
Ruth Rock of Hubbard said she has found the experience very rewarding.
The Rev. David Coxson, pastor of Corner House Church, shared his experience with a slide show from three mission trips to Haiti.
He said the Haitian children are very appreciative of what items they receive and the dresses make a major difference.
"I remember once I was going to preach and it rained so much that the truck I was in could not get up the hill so we had to walk a mile. There were bridges knocked out because of a hurricane," Coxson said.
Coxson does much of his mission work through Lifeline Christian Mission which sponsors children.
"What makes the mission trips special is seeing the precious children we have helped sponsor. The trips to Haiti have been experiences of a lifetime," he said.
Coxson said people send monetary donations and food, including peanut butter, which help provide nutritious meals to families in Haiti and Africa.
He said the trips help allow him to enhance his spiritual growth, minister to people in need, and experience a foreign culture.