Under the leadership of Costume Shop Supervisor at the university, Mary Zellers, the students partnered with the Emmanuel Church in Fort Wayne to work on the missions project. This partnership stemmed from an article written about the Zeller’s J-term class.
“We had our J-term class which the students designed their own aprons and then made hot pads to go with them,” Zellers said. “That write up was in the newspaper and Kris Hittler, from Emanuel Church in Fort Wayne, saw the article and contacted me and said you’ve got all these sewers, would you like to work on a mission’s project for me.”
Zellers was intrigued by the offer and allowed Hittler to come in to pitched the idea to the students and explain to them what they would be doing. The students, after hearing about the project, we excited about the project and immediately wanted to begin working.
“Basically, take with the fabric, put some side seams, trim on the top, hem on the boom and you have a sundress for a little African girl or one of the equatorial countries,” Zellers explained.
This labor of love started on the February 14, 2016, and last till about the middle of March. After the idea was pitched it took approximately one week to get the materials to the school and an addition 5 weeks to get the work done. The students worked together and did their best to make each item of clothing special and memorable. According to senior, Trenidy Cox, the project took a lot of teamwork and cooperation.
“We had to go about what colors we were going to use and what colors we were going to match with those colors,” Cox said.
After the students got the hang of things, the students began to add their own personal touches to the idea. Cox even suggested that the expand the original mission.
“I was like why are just making girls clothes lets make boys clothes as well, so we ended up making shorts,” Cox said.
“It’s really neat the way that they work together on stuff,” Zellers said. “So we were really busy but they were all just so pretty and the kids had a great time doing it.”
“What we did was put different color pockets on the shorts because this may be the only clothes they’re getting at this time so it would be nice for them to have cool clothes and they could be happy about them and feel good about the colors they got and it would be good for them as well,” Cox said.
The mission project yielded 71 dresses and 15 pairs of shorts. According to Zellers, the missions project gave the students something to do in between times when they were not as busy. The students decided who was going to work on the project on each day and then they jumped at it.
“After they made a couple they knew how to do it they were all the same basic instructions and once we got them all done and started working on this show we had called it quits on that, and that was it. It was really a neat project,” Zellers said.
The project got done my students who were shop workers, grant workers and students on work study.
“All of our dresses and the shorts we made are going to Haiti so we know exactly who is going to get them and they ship out Monday of this next week so they’re on their way, “ Zellers said.
Students were happy for the opportunity to give back, and viewed the project as a nice cause and a tangible way to make a difference.
“People on campus are always talking about, ‘Oh we need to find all these different ways to volunteer and do things.’ Well, this was a good way that we could do something useful and actually helpful and something we can do within our talents,” junior Caitlin Fielding said.
“I thought it was kinda nice that we were helping out by just like doing what we do best by just making an outfit for a kid that needs it,” sophomore Emma Slavin-Hall said.
“I did it because, we’ve had several chapels about community service and a lot of the stuff that we do is, since its community service, it’s just in the community, but this was just a way to get out of the community and get our talents out to rest of the world and help people who are in need and not just the people in our backyards like rake someone’s yard, carry out the trash for them,” Cox said. “This was like giving them physical objects that they were desperately in need of because they don’t have any other way of getting it.”
The project was fully funded by the Emmanuel Church who held fundraisers to get the money used to buy the material for the clothes. It was then up to the students to make the magic happen. According to Zellers, the students made each item of clothing a work of art as they creatively added small but unique embellishments to make each item unique.
Zellers stated that this is not the last missions project the costume shop will work on. They plan to continue their partnership with the Emmanuel church and with work with other churches in the future.