Locals make dresses from pillowcases for needy girls around the world

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Locals met Monday to assemble dresses that will be donated to poor young girls from third world countries next year.

Margeurite Schondebare of Southold joined a handful of East End women at Jeni’s Main Street Grill on Monday afternoon and assembled dresses made from pillowcases to distribute to needy children around the world.

“The most important thing in the sewing of these dresses is that they’re sturdy,” Ms. Schondebare said. “That’s why I try to go and back stitch, just to make sure it’s held together because some of these children are going to wear these dresses for five or six years.”

The hands-on event is an outreach of “Mission to Heal,” organized by Dr. Glenn Geelhoed, who has been treating people without access to medical care for more than 40 years.

In January 2013 he and his team will deliver the dresses and medical equipment to places such as Nigeria, the Phillipines, India and Equador. Ms. Schondebare said some Southold residents could be part of a leg of that journey.

“This is not going to some general pool sitting on some airport tarmac,” she said. “The people that are going on the trip are going to see one little girl and say, ‘Here’s a dress.’”

The dresses volunteers made at the party have shoelace straps tied at the shoulder to allow for adjustments as the wearer grows.

Ms. Schondebare asked all the dressmakers to create a pocket for a whistle as part of the Whistles for Peace program, which originated at the First Presbyterian Church.

Sponsoring a whistle costs five dollars, which Ms. Schondebare said represents a donation for medical care for a child, their family or village, a toy, or other needed items.

Ms. Schondebare  has three more pillowcase parties planned for this summer. The next will be held June 11 between 4 and p.m. at the White Weathered Barn on Front Street in Greenport. After a second on June 13 in Hampton Bays, Fitness Advantage in Southold will host a July 6 pillowcase party between 6 and 9 p.m.

Dresses cannot be donated, but the group will gladly accept donations of pillowcases, double bias tape, shoelaces (particularly brightly colored ones) and cash to sponsor Whistles for Peace.

Visit for more information and read more about the program in Thursday’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

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