When Decorah High School senior Kenzie Freeman wanted to put her sewing skills to good use, she decided to do some research into how she could make a difference.
“I already have enough blankets and clothes here for myself. I wanted to find something meaningful to do with my love of sewing,” said Freeman, the daughter of Douglas Freeman and the late Allison Dwyer.
Freeman has been sewing since her mother taught her how when she was about five.
“I was just Googling good sewing charities and I found one called ‘Dress a girl around the world,’” she said. (Visit dressagirlaroundtheworld.com)
Freeman said she was attracted to the cause, because the organization gives dresses to girls in the poorest of the poor countries.
“They focus on countries where women are seen as less than human. When someone sees a girl wearing a nice, handmade dress, it gives them the illusion of wealth and protects them from predators who might take them. It also just shows them, since it is handmade, that someone across the world cares for them,” said Freeman.
“Having a handmade thing shows them they are important and loved and a valuable person.”
Dress a girl around the world is affiliated with Hope 4 Women International (h4wi.org), which facilitates a number of programs that help women become educated. They also rescue women who have been forced into the sex trade and help them attain skills so they can move on and have a good life, according to Freeman.
“There are more slaves in the world today than there have been in history. Most of them are women and children,” she said.

About the dresses
Freeman has crafted between 40 and 50 dresses from a pattern she bought at Walmart.
“I bought the fabric with Chrismas money from my grandparents, the rest Dad helped with,” she said.
Each dress takes her between an hour and a half and two hours to sew. They are made of 100 percent cotton and have to last as long as they fit the girl.
“I liked this pattern because it was cute with a big skirt the girls can spin around in. Every little girl needs to be able to feel like a princess,” she said, adding she purchased a beaded necklace to accompany each of her dresses, which range from “itty bitty” up to girls around Freeman’s age.
“I hope these will give them dignity and show them that someone did put in time for them,” she added.

How to help
Those interested in participating can visit dressagirlaroundtheworld.com.
Those who can’t sew can sponsor a dress for $10.

What’s next?
Freeman plans to ship the dresses in the near future.
They will be inspected by the company before being sent to their final destinations.
“They will make sure they are respectful and well made and will distribute them where they are most needed,” said Freeman, who said she is currently looking for another charity to pursue.
After graduation, she plans to attend Colby Sawyer College in New London, N.H.