(Oct. 17, 2014) Knowing the dress you made will clothe a poor child for an entire year might be one of the most satisfying feelings. For three years, Barbara Entwistle has been making dresses out of pillowcases for children in third world countries.
To date, she and others have made and delivered 996 dresses to children in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and East Timor. For the first time this year, children in Israel and Mexico will receive dresses too.
“Another 200 dresses will be assembled and gathered up in February to be delivered,” Entwistle said.
A group of about 30 people try to meet every other month to see what everyone has made and to talk about future deliveries for the dresses.
“There are a couple groups here and there working on dresses. They can deliver them to me or I will go pick them up,” Entwistle said.
She holds sewing parties at her house, in local libraries, at Girl Scout meetings and in church groups. Entwistle counts the dresses when they are packed into boxes. She has a running list of how many were made, where they went and when the girl’s received them.
“I don’t think I will ever stop making dresses. Once you get started, it only takes about 20 minutes to finish. It is worthwhile, satisfying and needs to be done,” she said.
Groups who have participated in this cause throughout the years are Girl Scouts, Smith Island ladies, home school kids, Wicomico County 4H Club and the Wicomico County detention center.
“The Wicomico County detainees were very pleased with themselves. Some of them have never helped anyone, it made them feel good and boosted morale.”
Melanie Metzger, a registered nurse and missionary, caught a glimpse of the dresses and wanted to be involved. She is currently in the Dominican Republic and has delivered around 300 or 400 dresses to third world countries, Entwistle said. Metzger took dresses on one trip and when she went back a year later, the girls needed new ones. They wore the pillowcase dresses every single day. In some of these countries, little girls only have one piece of clothing to get them through the year.
One of the missionaries, Sandra Wang Harris brought dresses to children in East Timor, one of the poorest countries in the South Pacific. She said of her visit, “My sister in law has kindly sent us a dozen of your pillowcase dresses. I have sent most of them to the district rural areas where there is virtually nothing. I gave a dress to my next door neighbor who did not have anything to wear.”
The group will get together in January at the Ocean City Public Library. It is free to attend and open to the public.
“Most of the time, I will recruit more people who want to be involved when we get together in a public place. You show a dress to someone and they come back with 20 pillowcases, it really is wonderful,” Entwistle said.
Go Organic, Entwistle’s daughter’s store, in Berlin is a location you can drop off pillowcases, finished dresses or make donations.
Next week, Entwistle plans on going to Pocomoke to meet with a woman who introduced the project to her church group. The group will be making a couple hundred dresses in the next year and she makes sure they are blessed before being sent overseas.
The idea first came about when Entwistle was researching service projects with her local Girl Scout troop and she discovered Rachel O’Neal had been involved with making pillowcase dresses for African girls since 2006. The project has grown tremendously throughout the past three years and will continue to be a resource for underprivileged children in third world countries.
Those interested in making pillowcase dresses should contact Barbara Entwistle at 443-944-5868 or email email@example.com.