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From Pillowcases to Dresses

Feb 08, 2011

When the Cadettes in Troop 800 decided to work toward their Silver Award, they never realized how much the project would change their lives.

“It’s really opened my eyes. If I have a bad day or make a bad grade in school, I just remember the girls who don’t even get to go to school,” said troop member Hailey Ewing.

The troop is making dresses out of pillowcases, and dolls out of scrap materials, to send to young girls in impoverished countries. The original goal was to make 500 dresses, but by teaching others in their community to make the dresses and dolls, they were able to reach their goal early.

“We didn’t expect the people we taught to make the dresses to make so many,” said Kelly Parish. “One lady made like 66!”

The girls have now set a new goal of 800 dresses – for Troop 800 – and they credit the training sessions with more than just getting them to their goal faster than expected. All of the girls felt that teaching others, especially younger Brownies, was a great experience.

“I like working with younger people because they are so creative and everything. When we were making dolls they had so many good ideas about how to put colors together, it was like they were teaching us stuff too,” said Emmalee Zian.

Cara, Hailey, Brittany, Emmalee and Kelly hold dolls and wear dresses they made in a workshop.

All of the troop members get a lot of satisfaction from knowing that they are helping others. After the dresses are delivered to young girls in countries like Uganda and Kenya, the troop gets a picture of the children who now wear their dresses and play with their dolls. Cara Fitzpatrick said, “That is probably the best part, because they just look so happy. I’ve seen several of the dresses I have made and that is just so special.”

None of the troop members thought that they would be capable of making such a big difference in the lives of others before starting this project. Their advice to Girl Scouts who want to do the same thing is to start small but think big.

Or, as troop member Brittany Ballard said, “Put your mind to what you believe in, and just do something.”