Three generations of local women combine their time and talents to bring smiles to kids in Haiti
By Kristen Miller
DASSEL, MN When it comes to making a difference in the life of a child, sometimes all it takes is a little extra time, a willing heart, and a sewing machine.
That’s what Kelly Babekuhl, Dassel, realized when she came across the organization Renew Hope Haiti, a Christian-based group that partners with non-profit organizations to change the lives of children in Haiti.
Babekuhl, a member of the Cokato Dassel Rotary Club, was looking for a service project something she could do that would make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
“And the only thing I can do is sew,” Babekuhl said with a chuckle.
She chose to look for an organization that served the country of Haiti because, through Rotary, she has become increasingly aware of the needs within the country, especially following last year’s devastating earthquake.
So, Babekuhl went online and Googled “Sewing for Haiti.” She found “Sew in Love With Haiti,” a sewing ministry through Renew Hope Haiti that collects backpacks, pencil cases, and dolls that people have sewn for the cause.
“The pictures you see of the kids my heart just breaks,” Babekuhl commented, regarding the photos on the website.
It was the look of gratitude in the children’s eyes when they were given their very own doll that made Babekuhl decide to join the Dolly Drive and sew dolls for Haiti.
With the pattern provided by the organization, Babekuhl’s next step was to find fabric for the dolls.
She began asking her friends to donate any unused fabric toward the effort, which included sewing both female and male dolls. The Patchwork Cupboard in Dassel generously donated batting for the dolls.
Babekuhl also got her mother, Jean Sauers involved because not only does she sew, but she happened to have two sewing machines; one for each of them.
With Babekuhl’s daughter Evan home for spring break, making dolls soon became a group effort. Though unable to sew, Evan assisted her mother and grandmother with cutting, pressing, and stuffing the dolls.
Together, they completed a total of 75 dolls for the April doll drive.
Not only is the provided pattern a simple pattern to sew, but it’s also a great way to utilize extra fabric laying around the house, she explained.
In addition to sewing dolls, Babekuhl had the idea to make matching Sunday dresses for the Haitian girls to wear to church. Together, they made a total of 20 dresses.
Babekuhl’s idea for a Sunday dress drive was also much appreciated by the organization, which has shared Babekuhl’s pattern with others willing to sew dresses for the cause.
Renew Hope Haiti partners with the non-profit organization Hope for the Hungry, which has been working in Haiti for 30 years.
Following the earthquake, when many organizations would only accept monetary donations, Renew Hope Haiti was able to work with organizations like Hope for the Hungry to get much needed supplies such as hygiene products, clothing, and medical supplies to residents.
“This has opened the doors for so many to give and to receive,” said Lisa Paul, of Renew Hope Haiti.
Four times a year, Paul along with other volunteers with Renew Hope Haiti, pack suitcases full of these donated supplies.
The first Dolly Donation Drive collected 120 dolls. The April doll drive is expected to be more than double, with 275 dolls.
“We are so thankful for Kelly’s support of this project,” Paul said. “She is truly a blessing to us and to the children in Haiti.”
Babekuhl isn’t planning to end here, either.
“I can’t stop now,” she said. “These kids literally have nothing. We can’t even fathom that.”
For more information about Renew Hope Haiti and ways to become involved, visit www.renewhopehaiti.com.