Apparel Productions Gives Back Globally


The Apparel Productions class is hard at work making washable, reusable menstrual pads for girls in Africa who do not have access to the products they need (photo credit T. Dent).

The Apparel Productions class is taking their sewing knowledge and applying it for charity. The Little Dresses for Africa organization is a charity that helps provide young girls in African countries with products that they may not have been able to get otherwise. In the past, the main focus was on making and sending dresses to the girls. Now, they have branched into a new direction, one which the Apparel Productions class has been aiding.

“Many girls end up staying home from school during their cycle due to the lack of hygiene products that they have access to, and others use unsafe materials as a substitute. [Our research] found [that] girls are using sticks, and mulch, and leaves, and other unsanitary items as a period product, so what we’re trying to do is give them access to more sustainable and safe options. My students are working to sew washable menstrual pads that we are going to give these girls,” said Erika Lundstrom, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher.

Menstrual cycles preventing girls from going to school is a greater problem than some may realize. According to UNICEF, one in ten schoolgirls in Africa stop attending school once they get their period, be it just for the week or dropping out entirely.

Lundstrom hopes that providing these girls with the products they need will give them “dignity and empowerment to stay in school.”

The products themselves are rather easy to make, as long as a person knows how to sew.

“We’re sewing together fleece and cotton batting; there’s three layers in the middle for absorbency. They’ll end up sewing around the outside, and then we’ll quilt it all together and put two safety pins on them so they can attach them to their underwear,” explained Lundstrom.

Those not in the class who may want to help but, do not know how to sew, can still donate.

“We’re also asking for donations of women and girl’s underwear, so they’ll have all the stuff that they’ll need. [We need] girl’s [underwear] sizes 14-16, and women’s small and medium,” said Lundstrom.

It is important to her that her students understand the importance of generosity.

“They can sew a button on their own shirt, but they can also donate things to people who might need them. It’s giving them a chance to think outside of themselves, even past our community, to think ‘how can we help?’ Especially this year, a lot of us have learned how important it is to help each other,” said Lundstrom.

But there are still things people can do locally to help out.

“A lot of times, we think of people having needs in third world countries, but menstrual products and having access to them? That’s something that’s happening here too. Our homeless population is dealing with that…the things we don’t even think about are the things that people are needing.” said Lundstrom.

Those who would like to donate to the Little Dresses for Africa group can find more information here.