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Homemaker volunteers' project is 'sew' sweet
CLEVELAND -- Little dresses sewn with love in Mississippi make their way to children in need around the world throughout the year as part of the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers’ international project.
At the Bolivar County Extension office, local MHV president Helen Coleman gathered dresses created by her group of about a dozen members and said she expected additional fabric donations.
“Some of the ladies in our group sew, and those who can’t sew bought fabric so they could participate,” Coleman said. “When people in the community found out about what we were doing, they said they’d bring us more fabric to sew up some more dresses.”
Sylvia Clark, an Extension associate in Family and Consumer Sciences at Mississippi State University, said the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers are dedicated to making family and community life better.
“When they hear of a cause, they rise to the occasion and meet the need,” Clark said. “They love the work they do and volunteer out of love more than any other reason. In 2009, they heard that in some countries, children weren’t allowed to attend school if they didn’t have proper clothing.”
Their solution was to sew dresses to enable girls to get an education. Then they began sewing shorts and shirts for boys. Sometimes they even secure shoes for children in different countries.
The clothing is carried abroad by people going on mission trips or sent to churches that sponsor gift packages.
“Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers across the state have sewn more than 6,000 dresses and more than 2,000 sets of shorts and shirts,” Clark said. “They also sew for national and state causes if they hear of a specific need.”
One such project is sewing for Mississippi’s Batson Children’s Hospital, the only children’s hospital in Mississippi.
“They tell us their specific needs, such as therapy dolls, cough pillows and blankets,” Clark said. “Recently they said they received plenty of baby blankets, but they needed blankets suitable for preteens and teens, because the hospital is so chilly.”
Sheila Pettigo, chair of the international project, said MHV also partners with other community groups to secure donations and meet the needs of impoverished people around the globe.
“We work with the Lions Clubs to get eyeglasses and sunglasses to send overseas, especially to areas where it’s so hot and sunny,” Pettigo said. “We also work with Samaritan’s Purse, and recently we all made pillowcases for a project started by a woman whose daughter died of cancer.”
In 1922, a small group of women organized the Mississippi Extension Homemakers Council, now Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers, on the campus of Mississippi A & M College, now MSU. For more information on the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers, call the county Extension office or Clark at 662-325-1696.