Mothers seek volunteers for orphans

BRISTOL/MIDDLEBURY — When the Bristol-based Mothers Without Borders Vermont group hosts its fifth annual sew-a-thon to create dresses for orphans around the world, it will get a little extra spur. Kathy Headlee Miner, the founder of the international aid organization Mothers Without Borders, will be in town to describe the group’s accomplishments and encourage volunteers on to greater achievements.
The Vermont chapter of Mothers Without Borders will host simultaneous sew-a-thons in Bristol at Holley Hall and in Middlebury at the Middlebury Congregational Church on Saturday, Feb. 5, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Mothers Without Borders Vermont is part of a nonprofit national organization that lends help to AIDS orphaned children and others in orphanages in Zambia, Romania, Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti. More than 36 million children under 15 are orphaned in Sub-Saharan Africa today. Every 14 seconds, a child is orphaned by AIDS. It is the goal of the organization to send a message of hope and offer real solutions to the serious problems these children face by supporting the efforts of local communities and nongovernmental organizations.
The sew-a-thon is a day when people of the Bristol and Middlebury community come together to sew T-shirt dresses for these orphans. Thus far the group has shipped just under 3,000 T-shirt dresses to the children in Zambia and Haiti.
Nancy Luke, founder and president of the Vermont chapter said her personal goal for next month’s sew-a-thon was to complete 800 dresses. The inspiration provided by Headlee Miner should be a boost, she said.
“Kathy’s going to be here this year so we’ll be especially invigorated this year,” Luke said.
Luke just found out last week that Headlee Miner would be able to attend. Plans are still being firmed up, but Luke expects that the globe-trotting Headlee Miner (who has a home in Utah) will speak to volunteers and the general public on that Saturday at 9 a.m. She will give a first-hand report on the work being done by Mothers Without Borders, including the latest updates on the Family Resource Center Orphanage in Lusaka, Zambia.
Luke said she will also speak “about whatever else people are interested in hearing about.”
The talk is open to everyone and there is no charge.
In addition to Headlee Miner’s presence, Luke expects there to be more interest this year because the local chapter was featured in a Ladies Home Journal article last August, as well as on 2010 television broadcasts on PBS’s “Mountain Lakes Journal” and WCAX-TV.
“Last year we had a little under 100 people” volunteer at the sew-a-thons, Luke said. “This year I expect we’ll have more.”
“Oh gosh no. A small percentage do,” Luke said. “We need people to do all kinds of things. There are more jobs for non-sewers than for sewers.”
Fabric matchers, cutters, ironers, gatherers, packers, as well as sewers are needed.
Refreshments for the volunteers are also needed. Organizers said this is a great project for a team or club.
In fact, those who can’t take part in person can still help the effort, organizers said. They produced the following list of items that could be donated or in some cases, loaned for the day:
• Lightweight fabric: a yard or greater.
• New or gently used T-shirts, size 12 month to youth large (no logos, please).
• Sewing machines, 6-8-foot tables (for the day of the sew-a-thon).
• Thread, seam rippers, scissors, straight pins.
• Rotary cutters and large mats.
• Large L or T squares.
• Irons, table top ironing boards.
• Cash donations to defray costs of purchased T-shirts and shipping.
All items that are being loaned should be clearly marked with a name and phone number.
For drop-off locations, call Pat Chase in Middlebury at 382-9325 or Nancy Luke in Bristol at 453-2376.
“People volunteer for this for a number of reason,” Luke said. “A large part is for people in our community who don’t have a lot of money to give, but they have time. People want to do something globally in addition to locally.
“Also there is the camaraderie — the vibe in the room is just intense and amazing. Plus, we’re dealing with bright colors in a dreary Vermont winter day.”

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