BEEVILLE – Angie Rash was looking for a hobby when a stranger set her on a path she never knew existed.
“She just appeared to me,” Rash said of this chance encounter two years ago at Wal-Mart. The woman, whose identity is a mystery as she forgot to ask, told her of Dress a Girl Around the World.
“I went home and researched it,” she said. “The one thing that got me was that a well-dressed girl presents an appearance that she is well cared for and would discourage would-be predators.
“That really got my attention.”
She regrets now not getting the woman’s name at Wal-Mart.
“I don’t know who she was,” Rash said. “I think the Lord put her there.”
Fate, or divine intervention, had a plan that she said was set in motion years earlier.
“I had all this fabric my aunt had given me years before,” she said. “I didn’t know what I was going to do with it.
“The Lord had already set it out that this is what it is going to be used for.”
So, as quickly as this campaign began, she had crafted seven dresses.
Each of the dresses came with a purple label identifying it as one made by a member of the group.
Twice a year in Houston, she meets up with other seamstresses to pack up their wares and get them ready for shipment.
“They set up in this big church hall,” she said. “I made 20 when I went to my first Sew Fest in April 2017.
“Last year, I probably made 60. I should have made more.”
Included with each dress is something important for a girl with little to call her own.
“Where we sent these dresses, they are out in the boondocks,” she said. “There are some of these girls that don’t have any dresses at all.
“We put a pocket in each dress.
“We try to put a little doll or little toy in each pocket so they can have something that is theirs and they can keep.
“This way they can say, ‘This is mine.’”
The dresses are carried, often by missionaries, to the small villages where residents there are too poor to buy clothes for their children.
“Every girl should have a dress,” Rash repeats as she tells of her work. “You go to garage sales, and you see clothing there with the tag still on it.
“We have an abundance. We do not appreciate it.
“I am blessed to bless these girls.”
She had an album with her Monday as she talked about the ministry. Each page held a couple of photos — snapshots of girls wearing their new dresses.
“Every girl deserves at least one new dress,” she said again.
The outfits are simple — known as a pillowcase dress. A single seam goes down the back with an elastic neckline and straps at the shoulder.
“Pillow case dresses used to be very popular here at one time,” she said. Their benefit now is their simplicity which makes them durable where washing is done by hand and repair is nearly impossible.
“Everything has to be double-sewn,” she said. “If they mess up or tear, they cannot fix it.”
This pattern, too, lends itself to precut one-yard lengths.
Even with that minimal amount of cotton needed, no supply will last forever.
It would not take long for her quantity of fabric to dwindle. Rash was having to buy cloth now.
“The cheapest at Wal-Wart is $3.99 a yard,” she said. “It has to be the good fabric — cotton and durable.”
Members of her church, New Hope Christian, have donated supplies to help.
“Some of the ladies from the church will donate fabric, thread or money for me to continue with my work,” she said.
But then another chance sighting set her to sewing at full strength.
A friend found a box of fabric for $15 at a yard sale.
“That was worth well over $100,” she said.
“They were all in one-yard pieces and color coordinated,” she said. “She had a beautiful collection of fabric.
“To me that was a sign the Lord wants me to continue making dresses for these girls.”
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5221, or at media@mySouTex.com.