Little Dresses Workshop teams up with World Riders Foundation to bring clothing to orphans in Uganda

World Rider Foundation Founder, Mike Haley, with children at the Good Care Children’s Ministry. (Taken from WRF website)


Local non-profit Little Dresses Workshop and the World Riders Foundation teamed up to provide orphans in Uganda with much needed clothing.

Since 2011, the Little Dresses Workshop has made 9,108 dresses and 1,906 shorts and donated them worldwide. Mary Warner, manager of the work shop said between 30 and 36 are dedicated sewing volunteers. A total of 166 volunteers donate either supplies or time to the organization. The workshop makes the clothing for donation to children in need.

Last month Warner was able to contact Mike Haley the founder of World Riders Foundation (WRF). The foundation located in Minneapolis works to build, fund and sustain schools for orphans in developing nations. Warner learned of Haley and his organization from a news segment on WCCO. Haley spoke passionately about his dedication to the orphans and underprivileged children in Mityana, Uganda.

His foundation is working to provide safe living quarters and a primary school for the Good Care Children’s Ministry. The orphanage is run by Violet Scovia whose mission is saving and providing for the orphans. The WRF will be finishing the structures of classroom and dormitories that are already partially built.

After hearing of the story Warner decided to take a chance and contact Haley and inquire if the WRF would like to take the dresses and shorts with them to Uganda. Warner was surprised to hear back from Haley a few days later.

CAST Director and sponsor Kathy Austinson (left) WRF Founder and CEO Mike Haley and Little Dresses manager Mary Warner prepare the boxes full of dresses for orphans in Uganda.

“He was a phenomenal contact person. It was a stab in the dark to contact him,” Warner said. “I looked him up on the message boards. I wrote him and said we can’t give money but we can give dresses and shorts.”

Warner sent the message on Friday and heard back from Haley on Monday. He was more than willing to bring the dresses and shorts to orphans in Uganda.

On Jan. 26, Haley personally visited Warner’s home in New Ulm to pick up 13 boxes containing 362 dresses and 320 pairs of shorts in various sizes for the kids. Haley already informed Scovia of the donation and the orphanage is excited. Scovia will help fit the individual clothes to kids in need.

Before Haley left, Warner told him that if the WTF ever needed more dresses and shorts the Little Dresses Workshop would make arrangements to help.

“This event is just one of many shipments that make us so proud,” Warner said. “It is miraculous that all of us can send our love and care to those who need us.”

These boxes contain 362 dresses and 320 shorts for the orphans at the Good Care Children’s Ministry in Uganda.

The Little Dresses Workshop organization is made possible through community donations and the sewing volunteers. The group stores dress kits and supplies at the Washington Learning Center. On the second Wednesday of the month sewers may drop off dresses they have made and pick up extra supplies. The dresses and shorts are based on a simple pattern. A single dress takes two hours to make. The shorts take an average of 45 minutes. People can come to the Washington Learning Center on the first and third Wednesday to help put a kit together.

For more information on the WRF visit the website www.worldridersfoundation.org/projects. Warner encourages visiting the site and donating to the organization.

Over the last six years Little Dresses Workshop has distributed clothes to children in Uganda, Sierra Leone, Philippines, Jamaica, Gambia Tanzania, Liberia, Honduras, Haiti, New Guinea, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Nigeria, Guatemala, Sudan, South Africa, Ecuador, Bulgaria, the Orphan Grain Train in Fairmont, and churches in the area participating in the Christmas Boxes Project.

“I’d like to give a big thank you to everyone who helped make this shipment possible,” Warner said. “(To) all the volunteer sewing ladies, expert packers, our senior center sponsor, Kathy Austinson, and my husband for moving these boxes from Washington Learning Center to our garage for easier pick-up by Mr. Haley.”

Those looking who wish to donate to the workshop may contact Warner at (507) 354-1326. The group is always in need of cotton fabric, braided elastic, laces, ribbons, buttons, threads, stick pins, larger safety pins and gallon size ziploc bags. Warner has even offered to teach volunteers to sew.

Warner show an example of the dress kits used by the sewing volunteers.

For Warner and the dozens of volunteers seeing the positive effect they have on the world is its own reward.

“This is not work,” Warner said. “It’s joy!”