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Global charity sows local unity

Renee Kortus (front left), Shirley Wallin, Betty Wolhart, Joyce Wold, JoAnne Flom and Mabel Poul fold and organize hand-sewn dresses Tuesday, Oct. 9, at First Baptist Church in Baxter. The dresses will support missions in the field across the globe. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video1 / 2
Women of First Baptist Church in Baxter prepare hand-sewn dresses to be shipped to missions in the field Tuesday, Oct. 9. Church members Joyce Wold (front left) and Betty Wolhart (front right) together sewed about 1,000 dresses. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch Video2 / 2

A thousand dresses.

Transformed from bed sheets, pillowcases, lace tidbits and other odds and ends, many of the handmade frocks left Baxter Tuesday morning, Oct. 9, on the way to women and girls in need across the world.

A project spearheaded by the First Baptist Church, the recycled, donated linens will support missions in the field. Several missionaries associated with the church are spread about in far-flung places—the Philippines, India, Peru, Spain, Austria, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, Germany, Zambia, Liberia and Canada.

While the venture is set to impact numerous lives in its own right, on the local front, it grew to include several other area organizations in a chain of charitable action. The donated linens themselves originated from the Dorcas Thrift Store, operated by the Brainerd Seventh-day Adventist Church. Then, a 93-year-old volunteer delivered them to Baptist parishioner JoAnne Flom, who sifted through to find the patterns and colors for the repurposed garments they would become.

Flom delivered the materials to fellow churchgoers Betty Wolhart and Joyce Wold, who together sewed all of the approximately 1,000 dresses. But Flom faced a quandary: what should be done with the leftover bedding and other linens piled up in her home?

She soon connected with a member of Trinity Lutheran Church and learned they could use some of the leftovers to make blankets for their own mission fields. Then, Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Garrison took more for the making of their own mission quilts. With leftovers still lingering, Flom learned of a need for pillowcases and sheets at the Christian-based recovery center, Minnesota Adult and Teen Challenge.

What began as a project with one goal in mind, transformed into an expression of faith involving multiple communities and a number of congregations working together.

Chelsey Perkins

Chelsey Perkins grew up in Crosslake and is a graduate of Pequot Lakes High School. She earned her bachelor's degree in professional journalism at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. Perkins interned at the Lake Country Echo and the Rochester and Austin Post-Bulletins, and also worked for the student-run Minnesota Daily newspaper as a copy editor and columnist during college. She went on to intern at Utne Reader magazine, where she was later hired as the research editor. Before becoming the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch, Perkins worked as the county government beat reporter at the Dispatch and a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal.

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