NORTHROP - Sarah Garcia wanted to teach her students some basic life skills, as well as encourage an attitude of giving to others.
So the seventh- and eighth-grade teacher at St. James Lutheran School in Northrop contacted the local chapter of Orphan Grain Train and a project was born.
The 12 students in Garcia's class spent one day per week for a month learning to sew pillowcase dresses, which they donated Wednesday to Orphan Grain Train.
St. James Lutheran (Northrop) student James Wolter works on a pillowcase dress. The dresses were donated Wednesday to the Orphan Grain Train.
Orphan Grain Train is a Lutheran service organization focused on gathering supplies from volunteers throughout the country and making them available to those in need.
The 50 dresses will be stored in Fairmont, then shipped in January to a place in need. Arno Norman, who accepted the donation, said the organization sends its donations across the country and around the world. The dresses made by St. James Lutheran students likely will be shipped to Africa, he said, as they are sleeveless and lightweight.
St. Paul Lutheran Church in Fairmont regularly donates blankets to Orphan Grain Train, so it was a natural fit for the school to help the charity as well.
Carole Lohmann, a quilter, donated her expertise to help students make the dresses. Each student made two while Lohmann made several more. She was most surprised about the level of enthusiasm shown by the boys in the class.
The students used a studio setup with sewing machines inside a local business. Both genders found the experience easier with each piece they made. Of 12 students, only three had ever sewn before.
"It was easier than I expected," said eighth-grader Hanna Geistfeld. "At first I thought we wouldn't do very well."
The students each made one complete dress, which involved cutting off the corners of a pillowcase, sewing on an edging, and gathering a neckline. After that, students formed an assembly line to create the rest.
Some students said they didn't expect to try to take up sewing again, although a few said they might try again when they are older.