Dress a Girl Around the World

Photo by LORETTA JACKSON E. June Johnsen, foreground, community liaison for St. James United Methodist Church in Merrimack and a project volunteer, displays a newly made dress as Rotarians Juanita Dangel, left, and Jane Hoover work together.

Yards of colorful fabric and plenty of scissors were shared in a dressmaking project recently embraced by members of Merrimack High School’s Interact Club, a division of the Rotary Club of Merrimack – part a renowned international community service organization.

Jane Hoover, Rotary secretary, and Juanita Dangel, an avid member, directed the May 13 cutting and pinning and basting session for the ongoing project.

The finished frocks are shipped to Dress a Girl Around the World, a nonprofit enterprise by Hope 4 Women International, an Iowa non-denominational Christian organization that notes online the delivery of a million dresses to 81 countries since 2006. Thousands of volunteers here and abroad complete the simple patterns.

Each simple dress bears a Dress a Girl label on the front of a pocket. Village pastors reportedly avow that a girl in a clean, pretty dress is imparted dignity. The apparel is said to also deter human traffickers, predators who tend to abduct ragged waifs over girls obviously under watchful care.

Adding their sewing skills to the event were a pair of English teachers, Eileen Banfield and Jessica Gott, co-advisors of the Interact Club.

“It’s really cool to make a difference in the life of a young girl somewhere in the world,” Gott said.

The Interact Club is one of several clubs at Merrimack High School that strives to serve the community, the teachers noted. Gott said that the students have learned much about the consequences of poverty rampant in so many countries.

“Doing a project like Dress a Girl with the Merrimack Rotary is a great opportunity,” Banfield added. “The students see how their work can have a global impact.”

Interact Club members are credited with assisting with events hosted by Merrimack Parks and Recreation. They organize a community gift-giving during the holidays and support the Merrimack Rotary during the town’s July 4th festivities.

E. June Johnsen, community liaison for St. James United Methodist Church, also attended the session. Congregants are engaged in the same project conducted at the church hall on Daniel Webster Highway.

Johnsen’s liaison duties include rallying volunteers for community projects such as Dress a Girl. She recently spoke about the project at a meeting of the Merrimack Senior Citizens Club. A Rotarian at the meeting soon enabled a link with the Interact Club.

“The conference room has been filled with kids,” said Johnsen. “It’s all about learning about sharing with others who are in need.”

Opportunities for volunteerism abound within the Rotary Club of Merrimack, a group that meets at 7:15 a.m. on Thursdays at the John O’Leary Adult Community Center, 4 Church St. More can be learned on Facebook at Rotary-Club-Of-Merrimack.

Loretta Jackson may be contacted via email: