CASSVILLE, Mo. – Emmanuel Baptist Church in Cassville has taken the initiative to fund and house a local “Dress A Girl” chapter to send dresses to impoverished women across the world.
The group is part of Dress A Girl Around the World, a non-profit organization committed to making and gifting dresses to poverty-stricken females since 2006.
Emmanuel Baptist member Sue Cavness got involved with the organization after meeting a few members in Texas. Cavness told The Heartlander she brought the idea for a local chapter to her pastor, who she said was immediately committed to bringing it to life.
Dress A Girl Southwest Missouri was born shortly after that conversation in 2019. Cavness, now director of the Southwest Missouri chapter, said the group started small, but now averages 15 to 20 people during the weekdays and has a total of 50 seamstresses helping with dresses.
The Cassville group follows the national organization’s mission closely and provides dresses to girls and women, shorts for young boys and other essential articles of clothing to both males and females. The group also puts Beanie Babies toys in girls’ pockets and toy cars in boys’ pockets for an added surprise when they try on their new clothing for the first time.
According to Cavness, village pastors have told missionaries that a simple patch can ward off those who prey on small children in poverty-stricken areas. Every article of clothing the organization ships therefore has a Dress A Girl logo or label sewn onto it to deter predators or possible sex traffickers.
“When they realize that there is an organization that is looking over them, they tend to stay away from them,” Cavness said. “A well-dressed, well-kept, clean little girl and boy are typically overlooked by these predators and sex traffickers.”
The dresses are typically sent out with missionaries such as Sara Forhetz, former Emmy Award winning KY3 News anchor and current Convoy of Hope lead reporter and national spokesperson. The dresses often are taken to impoverished places like Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya, El Salvador, Mexico, Bolivia, Honduras and the Bahamas.
“We sit around and wait for God to send us a mission group so that we can get the dresses out there,” Cavness said.
According to Cavness, the group is always looking for donations, and specifically asks for travel bags or suitcases for the missionaries, extra fabric and money for sewing materials, and other costs.
Dress A Girl Around the World is in direct connection to Hope 4 Women International, an independent Christian organization that uses educational campaigns to empower women in countries suffering from disease, poverty and low self-esteem.
To date, Dress A Girl Southwest Missouri has made and sent over 1,500 dresses to girls and over 500 pairs of shorts to boys.
For more information on how to get involved or donate to Dress A Girl Southwest Missouri visit Cavness’ Facebook page or call Emmanuel Baptist Church at 417-847-3239.