Clothes going to Haiti thanks to Candle Lake volunteers

Jason Kerr
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Roughly a dozen volunteers from Candle Lake are putting the finishing touches on more than 200 dresses and 150 pairs of shorts, but they aren’t keeping them.

Photo Credits: Some of the handmade dresses on display at Candle Lake Community Church.  The clothes will be sent to Kamloops this spring, and then taken by Canadian missionaries to Haiti in the fall. 

The clothes are destined for Les Cayes a city of just under 70,000 people in Haiti that’s still struggling to deal with the effects of the earthquake that hit four years ago.

 “The idea was to take your pillowcases and turn them into dresses,” says volunteer Jackie Klassen.  “We’ve done that with a few, but mostly we’ve just donated material and made dresses and shorts out of them.”

Klassen says they got the idea from another volunteer, Ann Graff, who had connections to a Canadian missionary in Kamloops who was looking help making clothing.

“There’s a desperate need for dresses so she has everybody she knows making dresses,” Klassen says.  “We’re just a small part of it.”

The missionaries in Kamloops are connected to other missionaries in Haiti through an organization called Harvest International.

“They teach Sunday school and hand out clothes and a hot meal once a week to about a thousand children,” Klassen says.  “Some of (the children) are turning up with no clothes on.”

Klassen says it takes about an hour to turn a pillowcase into a dress.  It takes a bit longer if they make the clothes from scratch.

“We have an assembly line.  Some cut, some press, some sew,” Klassen says.  “It works well.”

While the group has a few core members, most of them come as they are able.  They meet once or twice a week at Candle Lake Community Church, which spearheads the project.  However, Klassen says the church isn’t the only group helping out.

“The community as a whole is very interested in it,” she says.

Once the clothes are made they’re sent to Kamloops.  The missionaries based there will then take them down to Haiti next November.  Based on the response, Klassen says this won’t be the last batch of clothes they make.

“Ann has already talked to the lady who was taking the clothes to Haiti and she was very happy with what we were doing,” she says.

The group is also raising donations in addition to their dressmaking.  All the money raised will go towards purchasing underwear for children in Haiti.

“They can’t seem to overcome the devastation from the earthquake,” Klassen says.  “There’s no infrastructure.”

For now, though, the group is content with what they’ve done, especially after starting with such modest goals, and they’ll probably do it again in the future.

“I wouldn’t be surprised,” Klassen says.  “For now, this will be enough.”

Organizations: Harvest International, Candle Lake Community Church

Geographic location: Haiti, Kamloops, Candle Lake Les Cayes

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