‘It gives them a sense of worth’: Beatrice church comes together to make dresses for African girls

November 22, 2018

It started with pillow cases, fabric scraps and any other donations they could get.

Then Linda Williams and Pam Hoge went to work.

Williams and Hoge, who belong to First Baptist Church in Beatrice, made around 180 dresses out of fabric donations for girls in Africa as part of the church’s annual White Cross mission project.

Traditionally, Baptist women work on a mission project each year, Hoge said. So Hoge went to the church’s national website and discovered the dresses project as an idea.

“I brought it to the women of the church and they seemed to think it was a good idea, so we went with it,” Hoge said.

Church members contributed fabric, trim, cash to buy supplies and design ideas, while Hoge and fellow member Williams sewed the dresses over the past three months.

The dresses, which Hoge and Williams shipped last week, will go to the “Little Dresses for Africa” ministry, which has donated 6-8 million dresses, according to Hoge. The dresses will be shipped from Michigan to the Congo, where they’ll be distributed to young girls.

“There’s an unending need for them,” Hoge said. “First of all, I’m sure they wear out and, second of all, besides protecting the girls from sexual assault, it gives them a sense of worth, that somebody cared enough to make this for them.

“In some cultures, little girls aren’t valued and this gives them a sense of worth, a sense of value.”

Typically, Baptist churches have devoted their White Cross mission projects to sewing medical supplies — roller bandages, surgical caps and receiving blankets. But Hoge said buying those supplies in the places they’re needed has become cheaper than shipping them, so churches have moved away from those kind of projects.

Each dress costs $2 to ship, but because of member’s generosity, that cost will be covered, Hoge said.

“We have generous people here and we’re going to be able to ship them all,” she said. ”...We’re a very mission-minded-church.”

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