February 8, 2010

The Water Well/Pillowcase Dress Project is "Well" Underway!

"400 Dresses", "Well Dressed", "Drink Well, Dress Well"...

These are some ideas for names for our project.

If this is the first you have heard of it, we are raising $10,150 this year to have a water well drilled in a village in East Africa. To raise money for the well, we are selling pillowcase dresses (they are ADORABLE!) and sending duplicate dresses to little girls in Africa who have no clothes and deserve to feel beautiful!

I have had so many ideas running through my head and so many offers to help that I am overwhelmed (in a GOOD way). I finally slept in until 7:00 am this morning. Excitement and a mind that wouldn't stop had me awake at 3:30 or 4:00 am Wednesday through Sunday!

I started sewing and LOVE the dresses. I have been using up my fabric stash and have also been given fabric from a wonderful friend!

The purpose of the post last week was just to let everyone know what we are doing. It was pointed out to us that there really isn't any good information on HOW to help. So...here are specific steps you can take if you would like to help right away:

1. We need donated fabric (designer fabric preferred). To donate fabric, email me at: melis108@gmail.com and we can make arrangements.

2. We need money to buy fabric. Sew, Mama, Sew! has offered to let us purchase fabric at cost plus shipping. That is GREAT news! In order to buy this fabric, we will need donations. If you would like to make a donation specifically for fabric, you can send me a Paypal at: melis108@gmail.com or send a check to: Melissa Lake, 42204 N 44th Drive, Anthem, AZ 85086.

3. We need seamstresses.
If you would like to help sew the dresses, please contact me. We will be having a sewing event on Saturday, March 6th from 9:00 am to Noon in Anthem, AZ (specific details to come). But, I can also give you fabric and the pattern if you would like to do some of the sewing at home.

4. We need to "sell" dresses! Okay, we're not quite ready for this one yet. We are making dresses, but don't have enough to post in an online store. The dresses will cost $50 for two of them, one of which will be sent to the purchaser and one to a little girl in Africa. The $50 will be a donation, payable directly to Hope 4 Kids International.

5. We need prayer. If you are a pray-er, we'd love your prayers!

We are hoping to get a website up and running soon with just the basic information but we want to keep overhead as low as possible.

Thank you for the amazing support that you have given in just the past six days since we first posted about the project! We started out with the idea that this would be a Lake Family project, but it has almost overnight turned into a community project!!

February 4, 2010

I Have a Dream

Okay, I know that title is pretty cheesy since this post isn't about MLK, and it should actually be "We Have a Dream!", but it is the title that popped in my head and won't leave.

Three years ago, around Christmas time, Doug found out about something called the Advent Conspiracy. I was too busy Christmas shopping, wrapping gifts, lying to the kids about what was or was not in my closet, and of course making fudge to do anything more than listen to Doug's short description of the program. I liked the idea: to give the money that would have been used for Christmas presents to a project that drilled water wells for people who had no clean water to drink. But, well, I had a lot of gifts to buy for my kids!

That year, after Christmas, we sat around looking at all of the packaging and decided to start this blog and a one year experiment to buy nothing new unless it was a necessity. We lasted for several months and it was a GREAT experiment. We still shop at Goodwill as a result of those few months of buying nothing new.

Fast forward two years to Christmas '09. Doug and I decided, as we do nearly every Christmas, that we would keep it simple. Doug really wanted to focus on giving to people in need instead of just focusing on our family. I completely agreed with him and intended to stick with that. I had good intentions, I really did. But, have you ever visited the Grocery Game forums? Well, they have a forum called Hot Tips. Yeah. When you are finding all of these GREAT toys, games, magazine subscriptions, etc., it is near impossible to NOT take advantage! I should insert here that we don't do debt. But, I did dip into our savings a time or two.

Christmas morning was exciting as usual. About half-way through the present opening, Gianna looks at me and says, with a hint of despair, "Mom! Do I have to open the rest of these?" It was at that moment I realized that maybe, just maybe, I had overdone it again.

I will say we took one evening to shop from the Food For the Hungry catalog for extended family members. But, you can't just give that to people, can you? I kept thinking of the Festivus Seinfeld episode where George receives a card from Tim Whatley saying that a donation had been made in George's name to the Children's Alliance. George is ticked and says, "I got him Yankee tickets! He got me a piece of paper saying, 'I've given your gift to someone else!'" So, I kept imaging people thinking I'd given their gift to someone else.

Okay, so why, year after year, do I fail to keep it simple? I really want to. I do. But, I never actual stick to the plan. In the beginning of January, I started thinking it through. I discovered that what I love about the shopping aspect of the holiday season is that it gives me purpose that has a definite deadline (December 25). How could I meet that need in a different, maybe more productive way? I should add that I don't have a problem with giving the kids an exciting Christmas full of toys, games and clothes. It's just that, seriously, when your 5 year old doesn't even want to finish opening the gifts, you've overdone it!

As I was pondering a solution, I remembered that every year Doug and I talk about the need that so many around the world have for clean drinking water. Could I turn the desire to really make a difference in thousands of lives into a sort of shopping substitute (makes it sound so trite). Yes, by golly, I think I can! And, I'll make my deadline December 15, 2010 (I have to have some time to shop for Christmas gifts!)

We had questions. How much does a water well cost? Who do we contact about it? I asked the All-Knowing Google and came up with too much information. How do you choose an organization? I contacted two charities, and, believe it or not, didn't hear back from them. During this time, a new family joined our small group. They introduced themselves and Julie said she worked for Hope 4 Kids International. I don't remember how it came up, but I asked her if they did water wells. The answer was yes! And, this charity is IN MY COMMUNITY! I LOVE that! Our next question was how much does it cost to drill a water well? Ten thousand dollars, she told me. Gulp. In my mind, I felt like we could raise $5000. Ten thousand was DOUBLE that.

I went to the Hope 4 Kids International website and started looking around. Did you know that over 300 million people in Africa lack safe water? And, 26% of a child's life is spent fetching (dirty) water? And, one well can provide clean water for 11,000-30,000 people?

So, how do we raise $10,150 by December 15h? That was the question. While browsing the Hope 4 Kids site, I found the "Pillowcases for Uganda" project. Basically, they are making dresses for girls in Uganda who have no dresses. What if I made sets of matching pillowcase dresses, sold them for $50 (charitable donation made out to Hope 4 Kids), with one going to the purchaser and the other one going to a girl in Uganda! How exciting to think of a little girl in the US wearing a dress that is identical to a dress that a little girl in Uganda is wearing.

I spoke with Angie at Hope 4 Kids and got some very exciting info. We could be assigned a village before we even start fundraising! And, the pillowcase dresses can go to girls in THAT village.

We are beyond excited about this project. Every time I mention it to someone, they want to know how they can help. I want to make the dresses super cute...like boutique dresses. So, my first step is to find fabric. I think I'll start out buying 3 bolts of fabric. With that, I can make 30 dresses. I love Amy Butler fabric, but stink at choosing fabrics that look great together (HELP?). Here is a picture of the pattern I plan to use (thanks to Frog Legs and Ponytails for donating the pattern):I think that once I get some fabric and make a few of the dresses, I will have a sewing day where I can teach how to make the dress and we can make a bunch of them.

What do we need:

- Ideas for fabric combinations (see how cute the two fabric are in the pattern picture?)
- Financial donations to purchase fabric (you can send PayPal to melis108@gmail.com, indicating that it is for the Water Well Dresses).
- Prayer support - I KNOW God has put this passion in our hearts and I also KNOW He will provide what we need to get this done.

I am not the most consistent blogger, but I'm going to try really hard to post updates.