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Little Dresses for Africa

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Fund Raising & Fund Distribution, Gift Distribution, Human Services

Mission: To plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy through the distribution of handmade little dresses, made of pillowcases by loving hands from all over the world.

Results: well over 8 million dresses and "britches for boys", a Distribution Center in Malawi, two primary schools, 10 wells, 2 school master's houses, a soccer field and a girls dormitory for 100 girls rescued from early childhood marriages. We also support projects ongoing with our short term trips twice a year since 2008.

Target demographics: clothe little children who are in need and instill self-esteem. "We're not just sending dresses, we're sending hope!"

Direct beneficiaries per year: 8 million dresses throughout the world, opened our 2nd school, and built a dormitory for 100 girls rescued from child marraiges.

Geographic areas served: distributed over 8 million dresses in 87 countries across the world, built 2 schools, 6 wells...

Programs: clothing, teaching lessons on sanitation, clean water, nutrition, building primary schools, providing clean water.

Community Stories

63 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Irene K.1

Donor

Rating: 5

Sewing almost every day for Little Dresses for Africa has become my second career. This is going into my tenth year of sending boxes to LDFA headquarters in Michigan. I have spoken to many groups such as churches, quilting guilds and small sewing units. As a result people donate fabric, batting and portable sewing machines to me. I have received some funds to help with postage. My story has been in several local newspapers. I have raised awareness of the needs and plight of children and youth who have so little! I find joy in sewing and thinking of these children. It is a blessing to my life! I thank God for Rachel O'Neill and her generous heart and motivation. She has given hope and strength to so many though the gifts of dresses, shorts for boys and young ladies monthly needs. Keeping girls in school will make a difference for the future of Africa. I am proud to be a part of this wonderful ministry.

1 Dawn143

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little Dresses for Africa changed my life. I became very sick and had to retire early. I decided to take up sewing as a way to work on my motor skills, and to help me to stay busy. I found out about Little Dresses for Africa during that time, and I began to sew little dresses. I fell in love with the mission, and how it helped bring dignity to needy little girls. The cloud of depression that had covered me for so long lifted, and I began to be very happy. The mission has grown so much during the time I have sewn. God has blessed Rachel and her ambitions and big heart. I love Little Dresses for Africa!

Previous Stories
3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little Dresses for Africa has given me an amazing opportunity to reach out, hands-on, to children who need to feel valued and loved. The dresses don't last forever, but hopefully the memory of love and compassion will stay with a child for a lifetime. I went from a situation with no supplies, not even a sewing machine or scrap of fabric, to being blessed with many stacks of fabric, and multiple machines. God has helped me to do a very good work for others!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I learned about LDFA about 8 years ago. The organization is very well organized, yet welcomes all who want to participate. Their mission began simply to provide little dresses and shorts to children who lived in rags. Volunteers have joined from all over the world, donating time and treasure. The focus has widened to include building schools, and providing clean water wells in Malawi as well as dress distribution to 89 nations. I have been sewing, participating in other ways, and this 76 year old is preparing to join the next mission trip to Malawi!

Diane B.5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I love this organization! They have love in their heart for those that are not as fortunate as most people here in America. I am a facilitator for a sewing Ministry that supports LDFA. I must say, every since we started giving to LDFA we have been profoundly blessed. Women and men are working together to give to LDFA. LDFA does a phenomenal work lifting up the dignity of people, while providing for the basic needs of people who have all but been forgotten by the world. This organization is a mighty conduit for common people to give what they have and know that it is being put to good use. I thank God for every Worker involved with LDFA as well as the Leadership.

Volunteer

Rating: 1

I have been sewing little dresses for over 5 years. I love the fact that these dresses are delivered directly to the girls. The photos of the girls getting the dresses show the joy they experience from them and that keeps me sewing. The oeganizers and volunteers are trustworthy and that makes all the difference in these types of programs. I never doubt that the dresses are handed out and not sold.

Beth H.4

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

Compassion and love in the name of Jesus. To God be the glory!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Little dresses for AFRICA has not only blessed me, but has blessed my sister and aunts who give me fabric, has blessed my aunt's WMU group who pays the postage for me to send the dresses, has blessed my sister's GA group as she had shared about the mission, has blessed my church group as I have shared about it with them. Each dress made and sent has been done with a prayer for the little girl who will wear it. This organization has provided thousands of dresses and shorts for children in impoverished countries. It has also provided wells for fresh water. These children are given hope that they can have a future. God blesses not only each seamstress, but each person involved with LITTLE DRESSES FOR AFRICA with the knowledge that even though to us a little dress may be a small thing, to the little girl it may be her entire world.

3

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

We pack Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes through Samaritan’s Purse. When I found out about Little Dresses for Africa, I contacted them to see if we could get some of their dresses, as a lot of our boxes go to Africa. Rachel gladly shipped us a huge pallet of dresses, and we are so thankful to include them in our boxes. These are sent to needy children all over the world. What a blessing Little Dresses for Africa is! They are a wonderful group of folks!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have sewed dresses and santi-pads for this wonderful organization.
You would think a little dress would not change a life, each one blesses me as I think of the little girl who will be wearing it. And such a big blessing for her.
The santi-pads let a girl take her education further. I have 3 daughters and can't imagine any of them losing days of education because of their period.

This organization is some kind of wonderful!!!

Pat T.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Gwen was like a sister I never had. We shared a love for sewing and dogs, she was an OR nurse, I'm a retired nurse, so we had a lot in common. Her sudden passing was, and still is, pure heartbreak. One of her passions was making the Little Dresses for Africa in her very limited spare time. It was to honor her that I began making the dresses, I have no idea how many I've made, but each one brings me joy. I've been to Africa and have seen the precious little girls wearing rags. Every little girl needs to know she matters and is loved so I will keep making dresses as long as I can. I've also made the britches for the little boys. And yes, I've seen their naked little bodies playing in the dirt, so very sad. I admire this organization and respect the time and energy it takes to make it work. May God bless all the hands involved.

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3

Donor

Rating: 5

My best friend, Gwen, was an OR nurse who loved to sew. Her passion was making Little Dresses for Africa. Gwen suddenly passed away in January of 2015, my mission was to honor her by making the dresses.
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Becky Pryor S.

Donor

Rating: 5

I love Little Dresses For Africa! It can be a individual sewing project or done in a group setting! I have sewed 97 dresses by myself from pillowcases. It is humbling to think of something we consider rather ordinary bringing such joy to a little girl 's life. This organization makes it so easy to donate locally and regularly posts pictures of the little girls who receive them!

Previous Stories
4

Donor

Rating: 5

I became involved with "Little Dresses For Africa" at the encouragement of a friend. Trust me when I say that I am not an accomplished sewer, but I have sewed over 60 pillowcase dresses for little girl's who have never had a new dress. This organization makes it very easy to join in, by giving you simple instructions via the internet and a place to send your finished product. The materials needed to begin are quite affordable and once others know you are sewing for this organization, they willingly donate pillowcases, trims, and sewing notions. I cannot physically serve in a mission field due to physical limitations, so this is a great way to use my gifts to benefit others. The pictures of the smiles of the children's faces as they try on their dresses, are all the thanks and encouragement I need to continue on.

3 Patti Artiste

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I absolutely LOVE Little Dresses for Africa!! I've been sewing again for a purpose. To spread hope, that these beautiful children are so worth it!! Thank You! Bless up!

Bonnie31

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started working for LDFA as my first steps into the "mission" field. I had no experience in anything before. The moment I stepped through the door and was called SISTER!!! I felt right at home. Watching this organization grow over the years has been such a blessing to me, not to mention the millions of lives it has touched and changed for the better. Talk about changing the world one life at a time, Little Dresses is truly love in motion. In addition to the base mission of sending little dresses (hope) - Wells are being put in that can save entire villages, hostels for girls sold into child marriages that are free now and can go to school and be safe. Schools for children to attend close to home and community centers to worship together. I got to experience this love first hand on the ground when I went to Africa in August of 2016. After years of opening boxes and packing boxes and sending boxes of dresses all over the world., watching a little girls face change instantly to joy of having something that shows them love and worthiness once you put the dress on - it brought me to tears! We fed people, helped with mobile medical clinic, support the local orphanage, open wells, teach vacation bible school, distribute buckets of hope to widows and distribute bibles and SO much more.
this is truly a life changing/ world changing organization and I am humbled to be a part of it.

Previous Stories
2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I never "missioned' before I was introduced to Little Dresses. I don't sew but I started helping by sorting those precious dresses sewn with so much love by women all over the world. I also open these boxes...and I see more and more that this is not just a mission for those that receive the dresses but also for those that provided the dresses. The stories and notes sent with the packages, along with the care put into the details. I found myself praying over these dresses as I opened them, blessing the givers and the receivers. that was 7 years ago. I then got the chance to go to Africa to see this love first hand. The first dress I put on a little girl who did not speak my language, who was not sure of a white woman giving her something so pretty, brought me to tears - the God giving pure love all around was overwhelming! Little Dresses is a TRUE charity in all meanings of the word. They provide clean water in the form of wells, community centers, schools, hostels, britches for boys, sani pads for the girls, bibles and most of all Hope! Everything they get goes back into the organization to further this mission. Thank you

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1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My story wow, it began during one of my class reunions a few years ago. I kept seeing Rachel O’Neil pictured in Africa somewhere I did not know where on a fellow classmate of mine Facebook page. I had to ask if she Knew Rachel and she affirmed she did and told me what Rachel had been doing with an organization she founded called Little Dresses for Africa. I told her I was a friend of Rachel and not seen her for years and would like to help in some way. I ask her to let Rachel know. Rachel said I would not call well I called immediately. Rachel and I started were we left off great friends. She gave me a few assignments to help with the coming Big Dinner. I went to a few meetings and learned more and more how LDFA was affecting peoples lives around the world. I saw the pictures of the faces of the little girls in Africa and it just touch my heart. As time went by I let Rachel know I would like to go on one of her trips. At first there was no room. Someone dropped out and Rachel called and said do you want to go to Malawi? I said yes I do. Fast forward to Malawi the trip was a life changer for me in many ways. I look at what has been accomplished in just 10 years. The number of children touched by LDFA in the Name ofGod is phenomenal. The adults touched is unbelievable and I mean those volunteering as well as those helped. I know when I held a small baby my first day there or put a pair of shorts on a boy my heart was rejoicing in the Glory of God. What I really have learned so far is One person can make a difference. From just wanting to get a thousand dresses made and send them to Africa after making a trip there Rachel by the Grace of God has a movement an organization that seeks to be the Hands and Feet of Jesus. Giving all Glory to Our God. Yes one person can make a difference with the guidance of our God. I am proud to call Rachel my friend and plan on volunteering anytime and anyway I can Praise God in The Name Of Jesus.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started sewing for LDFA in 2010 after I sent up a prayer to St Theresa to use my hands . The very next day I received a catalog in the mail ( Nancy’s Notions) with a little insert that fell out of a little girl in rags asking I’d I could spare an hour to make her a new dress. My prayers were answered quickly. I also mail dresses to REALHOPEFORHAITI.org, and with local docs going on medical mission trips to Panama, Honduras, Mexico, etc. I have sewn dresses/ shorts/ drawstring purses/ nanny aprons, totaling over 4,500 since I started. I get great joy mentoring high schoolers for their senior projects, to sew dresses for LDFA.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

This is a fabulous charity that truly helps the most vulnerable and often forgotten children in this world. I love this charity because you get to create something that you know will make a difference in someone’s life. I found this charity through my former church and knew immediately that this was something I wanted to be part of. We have so much here and it breaks my heart to think that there are children in this day and age who are living without adequate clothing, clean water or an education. I love making these dresses and sani-pads so that these girls know that they are not forgotten and cared about. It’s a great reminder for me at how blessed I am and to be grateful for the simple things that we tend to take for granted. This organization not only provides dresses, sanitary pads and boy’s britches, they work tiressly to raise money so they can provide other services like digging wells, building an education dorm room so these children can have hope in an education and a sewing center where people there can earn a living. This, by far, is my favorite charity. I try to sew a dress each week and have donated money and a sewing machine. I like that you can be as creative as you want. I now sew dresses with cap sleeves and wrap skirts for the older girls. I’m always inspired by seeing the dresses that others have made. They have a great community of sewers around the world who have great advice, tips and support.

Johan S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was reunited with Rachel, the founder of Little Dresses for Africa, at a Soroptimist meeting in September 2007. I was friends with her older sister in High School. She came to tell us about her new organization and her goal of sending 1000 dresses to those less fortunate. A lofty goal for her, because she did not sew!
In 2017 she returned with a 10 year anniversary update. Over 8 million dresses have been sent to over 83 countries. The dresses are the ambassadors of the program. Relationships are developed and if the Chief of the village will donate land a well can be built. LDFA has built 15 wells, on the last trip to Malawi, May 2018, the team got to witness the opening of four of these wells. WATER saves lives and allows the children to attend school. Little Dresses has also built two primary schools and soon will open a secondary school.
EDUCATION changes the future. COMMUNITY sustains the village.
A new distribution warehouse ,at least four times bigger than the old one, has been built to improve and expand distribution to those that need it most. A sewing center was built on the same property. Malawian women will learn to sew and will learn finances 101 to help them start their own businesses. Malawian men are hired for all of the construction projects.
Her teams that visits twice a year, come to hand out dresses and other needed items donated from around the world. The team visits villages to check on the wells and schools and to spend time with the people in the villages.
One of the most loving things achomplished by LDFA, was the building of a dormitory for 110 young girls rescued from childhood marriage. Rachel's relationship with Senior Chief Kachindamoto is precious and powerful. Senior Chief is responsible to 900,000 people in Dedza Malawi. Well respected and a strong leader, she put an end to childhood marriage in Malawi. The request for the dormitory came from her in November 2016, in May of 2017, it was opened.
So from the lofty goal of 1000 dresses, an army of people from all over the world have stood behind and beside Rachel to achomplish her goal of planting in the heart of little girls that they are worthy, and so much more. Blessed to be part of such a wonderful organization!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

LDFA provides not only badly needed material items to impoverished children, but more importantly sends dignity, hope, and love to the recipients. I am humbled to sew dresses for the beautiful girls. As I sew I pray for these girls as well as the countless volunteers who work so diligently to spread the Word and bless the children. Additionally, LDFA has built a school and dug wells to provide for the long term needs of the community. Their outreach is tremendous and a glowing example of servitude.

3

Client Served

Rating: 5

Little dresses is a beacon of hope, my orphans and vulnerable kids from Sierra Leone West Africa has been blessed by the generosity of little dresses for Africa

4

Donor

Rating: 5

The least of these, that is what Little Dresses for Africa is all about. Real help to real people who are at the bottom of society. Sending a strong message that girls of all ages are worthy of love and a chance to thrive by building local schools, installing clean water wells, providing school uniforms, building a hostel for girls rescued from child marriages, buckets of supplies for widows, supplying cloth sanitary pads for girls to help manage their menstrual cycles and stay in school, and of course little dresses for young girls to know they are cared about.

Rachel, the founder of LDFA, is diligent in accessing the needs of the villages she visits each year. She answers those needs with solutions that make real change possible for both the current and future generations.

Sewing, donating, and volunteering takes place in homes across our country and the world to send a message of hope from one home to another. Everyone, no matter who you are can participate in some way to make a difference. Instead of waiting on the “big” institutions to step up, this organization uses “little” people to help out the “little” people.

We have been blessed to be part of this charity for many years now and are beyond grateful to know our money and supplies are getting directly to those who need them. Sending clean water, education, clothing, and the idea that we are all worthy.

~Kevin and Rachel

Comments ( 1 )

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littledressesforafrica 06/04/2018

Thank you for your kind remarks. You have been a real blessing to Little Dresses for Africa and to the children, especially through your donations to provide clean water for so many through Little Dresses for Africa! Love and thanks, Rachel O'Neill, Founder