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Regional Archives The Altamont Enterprise, March 8, 2012

Local church sews clothes for African orphans

Orphans in Uganda will soon be wearing clothes made by congregants of the Delanson United Methodist Church.

“When you’re cold and hungry, and tired, it’s good to know you’re not alone. Someone cares,” said Melissa McCarthy, the local lay pastor at the Delanson church.

She said that church member Robin DeVito, who has adopted a refugee from Rawanda, knew about the orphanage in Mafubira, Uganda. McCarthy described DeVito as a “remarkably kind and open woman.”

“When God called her, she was in the right spot,” she said.

Because of the AIDS epidemic, said McCarthy, “There are so many children and so few adults in the area with so many orphans; there is not enough food and care to go around.”

The Delanson group started with the idea of making dresses from pillowcases, as promoted by the not-for-profit Christian group, Little Dresses for Africa. That group has received over 560,000 dresses from across America that have been distributed in 31 African countries.

“But people had tons of material laying around,” said McCarthy that they wanted to use, so a simple pattern was found. “Many of us are not very good at sewing,” she said with a chuckle.

The Delanson congregation is small with about 50 registered members, and 20 to 25 active members, said McCarthy.

So far, they’ve made about 30 dresses.

“Many of the girls there wear just dresses, she said. McCarthy, who has a young son and daughter, went on, “I would be upset if I were a child there and saw the girls getting dresses and there was nothing for the boys.”

So the Delanson group last weekend tackled making shorts for the boys in the Ugandan orphanage. “We found a relatively easy pattern and we’re feeling brave,” said McCarthy last Friday.

This will be their last project for the orphanage as the congregants focus on needs closer to home, helping Schoharie and Middleburgh volunteers in the aftermath of last summer’s tropical storms.

Another Methodist church, in Burnt Hills, will take over the ministry. “That makes it easier for us to let it go,” said McCarthy.

The Delanson church will be sending its care package at the end of March and is looking for donated school supplies as well as donated T-shirts — sizes 4 to 8 for girls and sizes 8 to 14 for boys.

Donations may be made to the Delanson United Methodist Church, 112 East Shore Road, Delanson, NY 12053.

The T-shirts will be worn by the girls under their dresses, said McCarthy. “It’s a Christian orphanage,” she said, “and, if they go to church, they need to cover their shoulders. I guess it’s a modesty thing. Here in America, we missed that boat.”

McCarthy concluded, “Mostly, we want to spread God’s love so they know they’re cared about.”

— By Melissa Hale-Spencer

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