Hand-sewn clothing blessed and ready for shipment to needy African children


By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter

Hand-sewn clothing blessed and ready for shipment to needy African children
Members of the Hands for Hope Committee on the Shrewsbury Town Common

Shrewsbury – On Sept. 20, the First Congregational Church held its Sunday service outdoors on the Town Common as they have through the summer. On this last Sunday of summer, it felt more like late fall with temperatures in the 40s. Undaunted by the chill, several dozen congregants gathered in worship with masks, blankets and jackets.

Pastor Rev. Lynne Dolan and Rev. Dr. James Matarazzo presided over the service that featured a blessing of an assortment of dresses, shorts and sweaters in vibrant colors that were hand-sewn and knitted by the church’s “Hands for Hope” ministry. These will be shipped in the next couple of weeks to orphans in Kagera, Tanzania.

“This mission is part of the larger Christian charity,” explained ministry member Nancy Burnett. “’Tumaini’” is the Swahili word for hope and the Tumaini Fund is bringing hope to orphans living in one of the poorest parts of the world. Their ‘Sewing for Hope’ project is the organization that our ministry supports.” 

Hand-sewn clothing blessed and ready for shipment to needy African children
Handmade clothes for children hanging on the Shrewsbury Town Common

The Hands for Hope sewing project is one of many worldwide that supports the Tumaini Fund. They participate because it dovetails with the Church’s overall mission to partner with local and global organizations to address issues affecting people of all ages.

The church has supported this cause for many years and typically does this blessing in the spring; because of the pandemic it was delayed.

The group also knits “Izzy dolls” that will be placed in a pocket of each item of clothing as a comfort to the orphans. Izzy Dolls were inspired by a deceased Canadian soldier, Master Corporal Mark Isfeld, who wanted to bring love and comfort to children in “desperate parts of the world.”

Both pastors are grateful for the group’s efforts.

“I’ve worked in Tanzania, so for me it’s close to home because I saw it up front,” Matarazzo said. “Anything helps.”

Dolan added, “It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. It’s grown from a really small thing. They are saying that since they began the effort a couple of years ago, more people are now involved, but that they needed clothing for 200,000 students in Tanzania… Now they are down to 25,000, so this effort has really helped and now they are teaching the folks there how to do this.”

After discovering that people living in Kagera have been learning to sew, the church ministry has put together sewing kits for the shipment and the “Days for Girls” local chapter has provided sanitary kits.

The Hands for Hope Ministry has roughly 15 members and typically meets the fourth Monday of the month at 10 a.m. All are welcome to join. While they have not been able to meet in person since the beginning of the pandemic, they hope to be able to gather again soon.

For more information visit: https://fccsm.org

Photos/Melanie Petrucci

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