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Volunteers turn bolts of cloth into 100 dresses for needy girls in Yucatán

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Mérida, Yucatán — When Melissa Adler saw a sweet, simple little dress that her friend, Pat Quinones, was making for her granddaughter’s upcoming visit, the idea for Cien Vestidos (A Hundred Dresses) was born.

Both women are involved with Yucatán Giving Outreach A.C., a nonprofit foundation for like-minded people who want to give back to the community. The idea was to gather women from both the expat and local community to make 100 dresses to distribute to girls who live in various homes or orphanages and who benefit from the soup kitchens that YGO supports.

Yucatán Expat Life, which sets aside a portion of its revenue for local charities, donated the funding for the project. Pat and Brenda Fleming, another friend of Melissa’s, quickly determined which materials were needed. Word went out on Yucatán Giving Outreach’s Facebook page and with the help of 10 volunteers, the dresses were completed within three weeks and at a cost of only 55 pesos each.

Kimmy Suki, founder and president of YGO, coordinated the distribution of dresses, and with the help of several Cien Vestidos volunteers, over 115 dresses were delivered to the Renacer de Mayab and Oxcum Children’s Soup Kitchens, Casa K Children’s Shelter, Casa Emanuel Children’s Home, the Caimede DIF orphanage and several other girls in need.

On the way back from the facility in Oxcum, about 20 kilometers/12.4 miles from Mérida, the group passed a mother and child walking along the road. Knowing they had additional dresses in the trunk of the car, the group made one last delivery for the day.

After the success of the project, Melissa, Pat and Brenda began organizing the next Cien Vestidos project. One that would take considerable funds and a much larger group of volunteers.

There is a great need for blankets for the many elderly living in various group homes, both large and small. Winter nights can go down in temperature and many older folks are in need.The goal: 800 blankets.

Melissa admittedly has no shame when it comes to raising money for charity. With a generous gift from an anonymous donor plus additional funds from Colleen and Artie Duggan of Patriot Heating and Plumbing in New Hampshire, funds have been secured to make 400 blankets.

Excited knowing that half of a daunting financial goal was reached, Melissa mentioned the good news to Dawn Simmons, owner of restaurant Local 59 in Santiago. Melissa remembered “Blanketpalooza,” an annual drive she participated in years ago, back in her native New York. Anyone who brought a blanket to a participating tavern was given a free drink. Melissa suggested the idea. In the blink of an eye, Dawn said, “I’m in!”

Local 59 will offer a free pancake breakfast (her grandmother’s recipe) throughout the month of September to anyone who comes in with a blanket! Look for more information about Local 59’s blanket drive in tomorrow’s addition of Yucatan Expat Life.

The search for volunteers begins. Don’t sew? Not to worry, there are 400 lengths of fabric to cut. Any help is always appreciated.

For more information about volunteering or donating to this project or any of the many served by YGO, visit Yucatan Giving Outreach AC’s Facebook page for posts and details.

Photos (unless otherwise credited): Nora Garrett Photography

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