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Local women make dresses for girls in Africa

Phyllis Blount sews a pillow case together to form a dress to be sent to the Little Dresses for Africa organization. (Star Gazette photos by Michelle Wirth)

With different natural disasters, wars, and social issues happening thousands of miles away around the world, it might be easy to say “out of sight, out of mind.” But one group of local women is eager to help in ways they know best.

“You feel like your hands are tied because (these issues) are so far away, and yet there is so much we can do when your local,” said Rosie Caulkins, a Hastings resident.

A group of women gathered at Caulkins’ home on Monday to sew dresses for the non-profit organization Little Dresses for Africa (LDfA). The group of 12-15 women throughout the day sewed and decorated pillowcases to create dresses of various sizes.

Caulkins said the group of women started out as a craft group doing crafts for fun. They changed it into doing crafts for service projects about 25 years ago and haven’t looked back. They now call themselves Women Who Care.

“We started out as 12 women who wanted to make a difference and then it just expanded to be called Women Who Care because we have so many (group members) now,” Caulkins said.

Women Who Care is made up of friends, neighbors, church members or anyone else who wants to join them.

Susan Kolberg, a member of Women Who Care, said the projects are a great outlet.

“It’s just a good feeling to contribute to do something for somebody and actually having a method for making a difference,” she said.

Caulkins said the dresses are very simple to make and it is fun to see how each one turns out a little different. But one of the things she said she really enjoys is how rewarding the service work can be.

“When you see smiles on faces, and you see what you’ve done it’s just so rewarding to know that you helped somebody and that’s what life’s all about,” Caulkins said.

Women Who Care plan to continue the service project with LDfA. Caulkins said they had a goal of making 100 dresses, but they won’t necessarily stop there.

“The sky’s the limit,” she said.

Gently used or new pillowcase donations will be accepted by the group to continue dress making. Contact Rosie Caulkins at 651-503-3920 for more information.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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