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Local Lutheran women aim to help Madagascar

| Saturday, June 14, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
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Kathy Barton, left, and Lee Dorow, show off some of the dresses made by the Mid Mon Valley Lutheran Parish Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church group that will be sent to Madagascar for a missionary trip. On Friday, June 13, 2014

The Mid-Mon Valley Lutheran Parish of the Women of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (WECLA) is currently working on a new missionary project.

Little Dresses for Madagascar began in October 2013.

The local Lutheran parish includes Lynnwood Lutheran Church in Washington Township, Christ Lutheran Church in Charleroi, Grace Lutheran Church in Monongahela, St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Monessen, Christ Lutheran Church in West Newton and Hope Memorial Lutheran Church in Smithton.

The idea of WECLA members Kathy Barton and Audrey Luciani, Little Dresses for Madagascar is an off-shoot of the national, non-profit organization, Little Dresses for Africa (LDFA).

Dresses and shorts for little boys are made out of pillow cases.

One of three pastors of the parish, the Rev. Jack Hernstrom, will embark on his second missionary trip to the island nation in August.

“We figured that our pastor was going back to Madagascar, so why send them to Africa?” WECLA member Mardell Page said. “We'll send them with him. We're not sure how many we'll send because it depends on how much extra weight he's permitted to take with him. We should know soon, though.”

The dresses and shorts are distributed through orphanages, churches and schools.

“Where there is a need for clothing, that's where we will send them to be distributed,” Page said, adding that Madagascar isn't the only place where there is a need.

“We've sent them to Lutheran communities in Appalachia, as well as to areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina.”

Barton has led the charge, showing the ladies of the group how to sew the dresses,.

Luciani led the group in sewing shorts.

“You're always looking to coordinate with the church,” Page said. “This is the first trip that (Hernstrom) will take the items with him.”

In the event that Hernstrom cannot take all of the items sewn by the group, Page said, they will be distributed accordingly by need.

“What is left over will go to Lutheran services in Appalachia or where there are other needs,” Page added.

Efforts from the parish will be joined by a group from Greensburg and a sewing circle from Altoona, according to a release written by the group.

Anyone looking for more information about LDFA can visit www.littledressesforafrica.org.

The next meeting of the group will be its covered-dish meeting on Sept. 8, Page said.

Jeremy Sellew is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jsellew@tribweb.com or 724-684-2667.

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