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Dressing up: Cottage Grove church members sew clothes for underprivileged children

A handful of women at Hope Community Church have crafted nearly 200 dresses and shorts for boys and girls in a rural Taiwanese town. The church’s pastor is embarking on a mission trip and bringing the garments with him. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)1 / 2
Hope Community Church parishioner Diane Havens sews a dress made out of a sheet. Havens and several other congregation members are reusing T-shirts, pillowcases and sheets to craft dresses and shorts for children in need. (Bulletin photo by Emily Buss)2 / 2

A women’s group at Hope Community Church in Cottage Grove has created their own children’s fashion line, of sorts, by upcycling T-shirts, pillowcases and sheets.

Colorful fabrics that many congregation members have let sit in closets are given new life as several master sewers craft small dresses and shorts for girls and boys in poor communities overseas.

Hope Community member Diane Havens said she was inspired by a similar project done by a woman in Colorado. Havens said the church’s pastor, Larry Thorson, was embarking on a mission trip to Taiwan and members were looking for another way to help.

“It was a perfect fit,” Havens said of the project. “Our adult Sunday school had just ended and we were looking for something else to do. And we knew we wanted to send along something to the children in Taiwan."

Thorson and his wife, Leslie, left this week to assist an alliance church get off the ground in rural Taiwan. On their journey, they will also stop briefly in the Philippines.

Last month, Havens and several parishioners from the women’s group dusted off rarely used Singer sewing machines, started collecting gently used T-shirts, pillowcases and sheets donated by church members and began churning out dozens of children’s garments.

“I had this idea and then began to pray about how I could get this moving,” Havens said. “People came forward and, when (the weather) got warm, this thing really got off the ground. I do believe this (project) is God-anointed.”

Since the beginning of May, the group has made nearly 200 garments, all of which will be shipped along with Pastor Thorson on his mission trip. The women’s group takes over the church’s basement for five hours each Tuesday.

It’s also used as a time for the women to catch up with one another, Havens said.

While there is a lot of cutting and sewing involved in turning T-shirts into shorts, no piece of fabric goes unused. A piece of the sleeve is turned into a bookmark which will be given to children in the congregation, Patty Massarotti said.

“They will use them as bookmarks for their Bibles and will be reminded to pray for the children in Taiwan every time they pray,” she said. “This gets everyone involved in this mission, especially the children. They get very excited when you tell them they are helping to spread the word of God. They love it.”

Children’s Bibles translated into the appropriate languages will also accompany the garments, courtesy of OneHope Ministry, an international nonprofit providing scripture to youths.

“We really wanted our mission to coincide with Pastor Thorson’s and show these children the many ways in which God works,” Havens said.

A display has been set up in the main entrance of Hope Community Church called “Nancy’s Notions,” and includes samples of the garments, bags with fabric and sewing instructions, and more about the mission.

“This is a chance for us as a community to show we care,” Havens said, “and provide some things for those in need.”