Courtenay textiles students giving hope to impoverished Mexican mothers

MAIA BRADFIELD, Grade 10 sewing student at G.P. Vanier Secondary School, takes a break from sewing this dress destined for a young girl in Mexico.  - Renee Andor
MAIA BRADFIELD, Grade 10 sewing student at G.P. Vanier Secondary School, takes a break from sewing this dress destined for a young girl in Mexico.
— image credit: Renee Andor

Poor, young Mexican mothers will soon receive some hand-made clothes for their children, thanks to sewing students at G.P. Vanier Secondary School.

Students in Gloria Schnella's textiles class sewed a selection of kids' clothes, hats and even some stuffed teddy bears, which will soon be taken down to Mexico for distribution to young Mexican mothers living in poverty.

"A lot of times when students come into a sewing class they don't want to sew for themselves," says Schnella. "So, this way they're still getting experience sewing but they're doing it for a better cause … they're making it for somebody that it's going to be probably very beneficial for."

Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North's Peter Sanderson will soon take the items down to a small town nearby the border town of Yuma, Mexico. He's going there to help construct a community centre for Mission Under the Tree, a mission which gives donations like clothing to poor people in the community.

Sanderson says the young mothers will greatly appreciate the student-made clothes.

"It's so hard to describe what it's going to mean to (the mothers)," Sanderson says as he searches for words. "They're just going to love what this is and it's just going to give them some hope, and (they will) know that somebody out there cares what happens to them."

According to Sanderson, the donation program has been hugely popular with more than 80 young mothers coming to the mission for help during November — and by young, he means 13 to 15 years old.

"Somebody donated 100 pairs of shoes … and they were gone within a couple hours. They have nothing for their feet," adds Sanderson as he gives an example of the community's need for clothing.

"They just have nothing … There's nothing there but dust and dirt, and scrawny dogs and cardboard shacks."

Grade 10 student Sushmita Sinclair made some kids' pants and a dress for a young girl that went in this shipment of goods. Schnella plans to continue the initiative with future classes, and Sinclair also made a child's quilt with Grade 10 classmate Monika Janssen, which will be sent down with a future shipment.

"I think it's really awesome," says Sinclair, adding it felt good to be doing something to help.

Grade 10 student Maia Bradfield takes a break from working on a dress for a young girl to say it will go with the next shipment of donations, as she wasn't able to finish it in time for this one.

"It's really exciting. It's fun to make kids' clothing," says Bradfield. "It's nice to have somebody who would wear it and enjoy it."

As well, a couple of teen mom students donated some boxes of baby clothes, and Schnella sent down a couple of older model sewing machines the class no longer uses. She says the machines will be used at the community centre, giving teen moms sewing skills so they have a way to support themselves.

All material used to make the clothing has been donated by Comox Valley community members. Anyone with extra fabric they would like to donate to the cause can call Gloria Schnella at Vanier (250-338-9262).


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