I received some wonderful news last week: Nancy’s Notions has shipped 55,296 Little Dresses to Africa! WOW! Congratulations to Nancy’s Notions and to the amazing volunteers who sew dresses and do so much behind the scenes. For almost two years, Nancy’s Notions employees, customers, local community members and friends have been sewing, packaging, and shipping dresses to Little Dresses for Africa.

It all began when Rachel O’Neill was deeply touched by the little girls in Africa who were extremely oppressed. I was deeply touched by Rachel’s story of how she’s making a difference with Little Dresses for Africa – a non-profit, Christian organization, which provides relief to the children of Africa. Simple dresses are made out of pillowcases, and distributed through the orphanages, churches and schools in Africa to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy. To learn more about Little Dresses for Africa, visit Rachel’s web site and blog.






I asked Rachel to share her story on Sewing With Nancy as a Nancy’s Corner guest. To see my interviews with Rachel, visit NancyZieman.com and watch online Cotton Theory Quilting – Reversible Jackets Part 1 and Cotton Theory Quilting – Reversible Jackets Part 2.

Soon after the interviews originally aired in December 2009, sewers and quilters across North America started sewing little dresses from pillowcases and fabric from their stashes. Realizing there was a great need, Nancy’s Notions joined in the movement by teaming with Rachel’s organization to sew, collect, package and ship Little Dresses to Africa. Nancy’s Notions was soon overwhelmed with an outpouring of dresses and the word went out to the community.

Big Hearts in Beaver Dam, WI

On any given day of the week, you’ll find one, three, or more community volunteers sorting, sizing, and shipping little dresses in Nancy’s Notions warehouse. On this day we found Marion, Charlene and Diane – who were quick to point out that there are many others who help with the dresses. Including Carol, Ethel, Phyllis and many, many more.


Nancy's Notions Little Dresses for Africa



Charlene opens boxes of dresses – that arrive daily!


Nancy's Notions Little Dresses for Africa



Charlene presorts dresses for the next step


Nancy's Notions Little Dresses for Africa



Marion "sizes" each dress


Nancy's Notions Little Dresses For Africa



Marion sorts dresses by size


Nancy's Notions Little Dresses For Africa



Diane packages 60 dresses in each box


Nancy's Notions Little Dresses For Africa



Diane stacks boxes onto pallets






Little girls in need of dresses. Thanks to Rachel O'Neil for the use of the photo.

Thank you Nancy’s Notions for your kindness and generosity. Thank you volunteers for your caring spirits and sewing talents!

I recently emailed and asked Rachel for an update, here’s her reply:

Dear Nancy and Nancy’s Notions,
       We received the latest two pallets with boxes of dresses.  I am grateful beyond words for all you have done for us.  Thank you so much for your continued support.  I know that we will share in this for some time to come.  The response of sewers has just been overwhelming, to say the least.  Thank you so much for your generosity.  To send over 55,000 dresses internationally is an amazing gift and we are humbled by it. Your community is amazingly generous. You will never know the impact that you have had in so many communities, as you honored all these little girls.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Love and blessings,
Rachel O’Neill

Nancy’s Notions has put together a convenient kit to make Three Little Dresses for Africa. Send your finished dresses to Nancy’s Notions for packaging and shipment to Africa. To learn more, visit the Nancy’s Notions Creative Kindness Page.

Bye for now,

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