Walla Walla group sews up more garments for Little Dresses for Africa


A project undertaken by Walla Wallan Jane Samples has attracted other contributors, all captivated by Jane’s efforts to make Little Dresses for Africa.

She’s put fabric, buttons and ribbon to good use producing dresses for the nonprofit Christian group that provides relief to African children.

Inspired by Jane’s work, Providence St. Mary Medical Center Home Health occupational therapist Jean Corley rounded up a team of staffers to do the same thing.

“She asked me if I would be interested in coming to their meeting (in late May) and see the dresses they had made,” Jane enthused. Jean had read the Etcetera item about Jane’s work in the U-B and asked her group if they might be interested in making dresses too.

Jean’s sewers convene at the clinic on Chase Avenue, where Jane caught up with them. “OMG! There were at least 25 ladies — and one gentleman — sitting around the tables and little dresses hung on the walls all around the room. She asked me to tell about how all of this came about, so I went through the story for them.”

Using a template they found online, the Home Health crew produced pillowcase garments that tie at the neck. “I got some very good ideas from them and they, in turn, want my pattern,” Jane said. Through donated time and materials, the group assembled more than 30 dresses and presented them to Jane on May 29 during a Home Health staff meeting.

“I cannot believe how this has grown and multiplied just from me reading something in the Tri-City Herald. I thought it was coincidental but my daughter (Deberah Simon) thinks it was ‘divined.’ Whatever it was, it has given me so much pleasure and a whole lot of new friends,” Jane said.

“These simple dresses will be distributed through orphanages, churches and schools in Africa to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy,” noted Kathleen Obenland, director of public affairs and marketing at the medical center, in a hospital missive.

“I mailed the last of the dresses — I have finished 50 ­— on June 17 and have another 10 cut out and ready to go,” Jane added.

Her small project has mushroomed. “I am amazed at the scope of this whole thing! It actually is much bigger than I imagined.”

Jane heard from Rachel O’Neill, founder and director of the dress program, who is based in Brownstown, Mich.

Rachel said she’s used her own funds and vacation time for the past five years to make and deliver the dresses personally, “and I can tell you, they loved them.”

To get a sense of the project’s scope, she said she receives more than 25 boxes on her porch daily, some holding up to 200 dresses. “So in one week, it is not unusual for us to receive over 10,000 dresses.”

Any monetary contributions go toward postage. The dresses are separated by sizes and after they’re packed, and when they can afford it, the boxes are mailed to the orphanages and schools by volunteers.

Directions for making the pillowcase-style dresses, information about making contributions and other details are at www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog.

Walla Walla High School seniors Brenda López and José Carrasco received 2013 Wa-Hi Latino Club ADELANTARSE scholarships of $750, to be designated to a college of their choice for tuition expenses.

Proceeds for this award are gained through fundraising programs of Exploring Post 311 and a grant from the First Fruits Fund managed by Blue Mountain Community Foundation, said Bill Erickson in a release.

The pair overcame many barriers as English-as-a-second-language learners.

Brenda has been active in Hispanic Youth Exploring Engineering and Sciences Camp at Walla Walla University, Garrison Night School Estrellita pre-literacy program, Wa-Hi Link Crew, SOS Outreach Bluewood Ski program, the Post’s effort in the Salvation Army fund drive and Wa-Hi Latino Club. She was Latino Club president her senior year. She plans to attend Washington State University in the fall.

In 2012, she earned the Learning for Life Leadership Award for persistent efforts to advocate and be a leader and example to other students.

This year she received the Young American Award, which is a National Scouting youth award sponsored by the Blue Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

As a Latino Club member, Brenda contributed more than 100 hours of community service during the 2011-2012 school year.

For her efforts, she received the Bronze Award – President’s Volunteer Service Award for providing sustained community service during that time period. She has received this award for the past three years.

José was also active in Latino Club, the Garrison Night School Pre-literacy program, Advancement Via Individual Determination program, OneAmerica, SOS Outreach Bluewood Ski program and the Post’s effort in the Salvation Army fund drive. He plans to attend Walla Walla Community College this fall.

In 2012-2013, he provided more than 36 hours of service to the Garrison Night School pre-literacy program as a leader and tutor. This year he earned the Learning for Life Leadership Award for persistent efforts to advocate and be a leader and example to other students.

“Brenda and José have been extraordinary participants in our program, which is geared to create a college vision and a positive image of Latino youth in our community,” Bill said.

The fourth annual Children’s Home Society of Washington HomeTeam Parent Aide Program Relay for Hope not only brought the community together but was deemed a huge success this year.

The relay raised $10,723 for the prevention of child abuse.

Also co-sponsored by the Walmart Associate Volunteer Program 2476, the Walk Away Child Abuse Run/Walk took place on May 18.

“Organizers wanted to raise awareness on the devastating effects of child abuse and neglect as well as spread the message that a strong family supports the development of healthy children,” said event coordinator Stephanie Biegel in a release. One hundred twenty-two runners/walkers and 50 volunteers participated.

As mentioned previously in Etcetera, Berney Elementary fifth-grader Daria Parodi finished in first place during the relay 5K with a time of 22:59. Her dad, Prospect Point teacher David Parodi, was right behind her.

Prospect Point second-grader Damion Biegel worked with the Prospect Point PALs program to raise awareness and helped organize a team at his school.

Lincoln High School senior Eternity Biegel organized a school team, helped raise awareness for the Relay for Hope and Child Abuse Prevention and volunteered countless hours helping at the relay.

Numerous other schools and students were involved, Stephanie said.

“We appreciate the continued support and commitment to put an end to child abuse.”

In recognition of the 375 volunteer hours and 52 Walmart employees who donated time to the event, the Walmart Foundation will donate $6,000 to support child abuse prevention and the HomeTeam Parent Aide Program.

An additional $4,723 was raised in corporate sponsorships, race registrations and donations. Aid came from title sponsors Walmart Associate Volunteer Program, Dr. Thomas W. Utt orthodontist and team, and Tate Transporation; Betty Lou Crothers, State Farm Dayton branch; Dave Pemberton, State Farm College Place branch; Dayton General Store; H&J Takhar; Dayton Mercantile; and Zip Zone.

Proceeds will benefit the HomeTeam Parent Aide Program, a partnership with Exchange Club of Walla Walla and Children’s Home Society of Washington.

The Walla Walla High School orchestras presented their final concert of the year in late May.

For the seniors, it marked the end of eight years of participation in orchestra, said Julia Woods, their conductor during the same time frame.

She said farewell to seniors Melissa Nelsen and Nathanial Lynn, violin; Calvin Brigham, double bass; and Kelsey Gabel, viola.

The seniors also received honors: Kelsey, the Arion, National School Orchestra, Wa-Hi MVP Orchestra and Director’s awards; Nathanial, Instrumentalist Outstanding Musician; Calvin, National School Orchestra Award; and Melissa, Director’s Award.

Perhaps students will curl up with a good book on a brand new bench installed in memory of Missy Orrick Peterson, who was all about reading.

Edison Elementary School hosted a memorial dedication on June 10 to honor the late longtime school volunteer who co-founded the Books for Babes program. Missy was also actively involved in the Explorer Gifted Learning program and a leader in the Parent Teacher Association.

Edison staff and students attended the Missy Orrick Peterson Memorial Bench unveiling at the front entrance of the school.

A butterfly release was also held as a tribute to Missy and her lasting spirit.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or afternoons at 526-8313.


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