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Sew-a-thon aims to make dresses for African girls

Las Vegas resident Jil Gertz just wants to make a difference in the lives of children. That’s why she came up with the idea to hold a sew-a-thon to benefit girls in Africa with the help of her church, Good Samaritan Lutheran Church, 8425 W. Windmill Lane.

Gertz has been a member of the church, which she describes as a warm place with approximately 300 members, for 13 years.

“I love being a part of a church that reaches out to communities beyond our own, and that’s what we do,” she said.

In fact, Gertz credits the church with her idea.

“A few months ago, we had someone from the group Hope For Children International speak to us about making a difference in countries like Africa and what their efforts are,” she said. “It made me really want to do something.”

Gertz said she visited the group’s web site and found information about the Dress A Girl Around The World program, which encourages people to make dresses for toddlers to teens from gently used and new materials such as pillowcases.

“I know of people who want to make a difference, who wanted to do something like sponsor a child but haven’t been able to because of their own economic circumstance,” Gertz said. “This is a low-cost way that everyone can get involved.”

Gertz said her goal is to make 100 pounds of dresses to be sent to the program . The sew-a-thon is scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon May 7 at the church.

Gertz said the church is asking people to donate clean, new and gently used pillowcases, tank tops and T -shirts. Then, the items will be sewn together to make dresses. The event will feature eight sewing machines with dozens of people already signed up to volunteer in sorting, folding, ironing and cutting the material.

Gertz said more volunteers are needed, however.

“This is the kind of event you bring your children to,” she said. “You don’t have to know how to sew. Just come and help however you can. Let’s make this happen for these kids.”

Las Vegas resident Misty Tibadaux said she heard about the event through a friend and plans to attend.

“Children are children no matter where in the world they are,” she said. “Every one of them deserves a shot at making a life for the better. If I can help in a small way, I want to.”

Gertz said children in impoverished nations often don’t have proper clothing to go to school.

“They aren’t armed with tools for success,” she said. “We want to give them at least one.”

Gertz said if the goal isn’t reached during this weekend’s event, she plans to coordinate similar events throughout early summer until it is reached.

“Our pastor’s wife is going to Africa with her son this July to build wells for the program,” she said. “We want to send 100 pounds of dresses with her.”

Contact Southwest and Spring Valley View reporter Amanda Donnelly at adonnelly@viewnews.com or 380-4535.

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