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Teen makes 60 dresses for African girls

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POSTED: July 21, 2010 3:27 p.m.
Photo by Katie McGurl/

Veronica Fay and mom, Naomi Fay, show some of the dresses. Naomi was always there to help Veronica when she needed assistance.

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This summer, Veronica Fay, a rising senior at Richmond Hill High School, has sewn 60 children’s dresses for charity.

She just learned to sew in late May.

For years, Veronica’s mother, Naomi Fay, had been trying to pass down the useful skill – one which her own mother had taught her as a girl. Veronica’s interest was finally sparked two months ago, when she learned about Little Dresses for Africa, a program which distributes dresses to needy young girls in remote African villages.

“The project was really the push,” said Veronica. “Upon hearing about the project, it was kind of like: ‘How could you not get involved?’ These little girls were orphaned mostly because of the AIDS epidemic. Many of them had siblings and had to take care of them … so (for them) it was growing up sooner than you have to. On top of that, they didn’t have clothing. They didn’t have a single article, and I can’t imagine not having clothes. You couldn’t just hear the story and not do something.”

Naomi, a skilled dressmaker herself, gathered up patterns and fabric from her supply, and the two embarked on their mission. Veronica learned with her mother’s guidance, working step-by-step on a few dresses at a time. Finished dresses were bagged by size and added to a huge box for shipment.

Veronica will continue sewing the garments through August. “We’re not sure if we’re going to push for 100 dresses or make boy shorts, because there are little boys that don’t have clothes, either,” she said.

For the young bluegrass fiddler, creating the dresses for African children has been a “neat tribute to the family.” Her great-grandfather lived and worked in Africa as a translator for visiting British royalty.


Volunteerism has been a part of Veronica’s life since the age of four. Since then, she’s participated in beach and river cleanups, helped to build oyster reefs, fundraised for Relay for Life, and even created the Joye Johnson Memorial Butterfly Garden at Carver Elementary School.

She’s passionate about her current work for Little Dresses for Africa.

“Every time I complete a dress, it’s a feeling of self-accomplishment … I’m glad that I can help them and provide some little relief. I know my dresses aren’t going to help heal them, but I know they help a little bit.”

 

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