KOSCIUSKO COUNTY — When communities come together in times of need, the beauty of compassion transcends human selfishness and opens the hearts of everyone. Inside Faith Detwiler’s comfy home in New Paris, a family gathers together weekly to work on helping the little girls of Puerto Rico.
Grandma Lee happened across a Youtube tutorial over how to make little dresses from men’s shirts and brought it to her family as a interesting idea. While it started out small, the idea quickly grew and began to intertwine their lives with those in Puerto Rico. With donations from all around providing shirts, the family set to work in early October on Sundays after church. They will continue to work so long as there’s a need and the donations continue.
“This was connected to our sister, Karrie Matias, in North Carolina,” said Faith. “Her husband, Guillermo, and in-laws are from Puerto Rico. They were displaced from the hurricane, so this project was meshed in with the fact that we have family over there. This is months after the hurricane and people don’t have food, water or electricity today. The families have nothing left.”
The devastation of Puerto Rico has not been forgotten — 65 percent are still without electricity and 89 percent are without clean water. With assistance from people in the USA, the people have fortified and helped themselves in anyway they can. Their shoes have been swept away, homes destroyed and churches demolished yet they persevere.
“I just couldn’t imagine losing everything,” expressed Jennifer Woolwine, Syracuse. “We think we have it so bad but we’re blessed. They lost everything from the shoulders down. They were finding children dead and naked. I couldn’t imagine being a child with no clothes or parents.”
A direct connection to Pastor Silka Matias, sister-in-law, of Church Iglesia de Dios Pentecostal, MI Levittown, ensures the clothing will be given directly to the people without delay. So far, 200 pounds has been donated with 200 more ready to go, costing $100 for every 75 pounds sent. Money can be donated at www.gofundme.com/pr-repurpose-for-a-purpose, which will go towards shipping and material costs as well as rebuilding of the church.
“We get to have quality time together as a family,” commented Maria Martinez, Milford. “This project brought us closer together and it’s for a really good cause. I’m sure there are lots of people who want to help but just don’t know how.”
Donated materials like large dress shirts and thread can be given at Courtyard Healthcare Center, 2400 College Ave., Goshen, or the Old Bag Factory, 1100 Chicago Ave., Goshen. To coordinate a drop off, email the Courtyard at [email protected]
In working for a cause and being driven by their compassion, the sisters have come closer together with the time they share. Sewing and being raised as kind individuals is embedded deeply within the roots of who they are. It’s become an adventure where even their children are making flyers at school, creating awareness and getting teachers thinking about what they can do to help. Despite struggles in their own lives, their determination in helping others has never wavered.
“This is the next generation of little girls that we’re helping to keep Puerto Rico going,” Faith explained. “The need is real. We can’t fathom what they’re going through. We need to do something and give love to others. We may not be there but we can do something about the situation.”