"My beginning textiles class is making shirts to send to children in many different countries. We've been doing this for about six years now," Family and Consumer Science instructor Joanna Connors said. "The students used to make pajama bottoms and tops for themselves, but I found out they weren't wearing the tops."
Connors added students were discarding most of their hand-made tops, and they were going to waste.
"So, I had the idea we'd make them for other people, children who didn't have nice clothes," Connors explained. "The students do better work. When they make them for someone else, I see lots of beautiful stitch work."
Northview junior Danielle Kate Bryan, who is making yellow blouse with a green pocket featuring a small yellow bow, agreed with Connors.
"I've gotten much better since I've started working," Bryan said. "When I'm making something for someone else I do a better job because I want to make sure they like it. I love helping people out, and I hope they will be so excited they will scream when they see it."
Students, like sophomore Kaleen Wetnight, say the project is teaching her much more than sewing skills; it's teaching her to be thankful.
"I can try on a piece of clothing, take it off and throw it on the floor because it doesn't look right," Wetnight said, "but these kids would wear something, anything, even if it was too big or too small or ripped."
For Wetnight, the project is a chance to not only be grateful and give back, but also to share her personality through her work.
"I am really girly, and I wanted to make a dress for a little girl even before I started this class," Wetnight said. "I found material at Walmart that matched some material I had here at school and knew it would look great together."
Wetnight's shirt is an animal print with many different shades of green. She decorated the lower half with a sheer, sparkly-green material, trimmed in a black tatted lace.
"Knowing someone else who is suffering is getting the shirt makes it all worthwhile," Wetnight said. "We all have shirts and clothes, and we take it for granted. I feel thrilled and excited when I think about someone receiving my little creation."
Connors said she plans to find a missionary going aboard who knows of children needing clothing.
"Last summer, we sent 50 shirts to Honduras," Connors said. "In the past, we've even sent them to American Indian reservations; it's pretty much wherever we find there's a need."
At the completion of this year's project, Northview will have 30 shirts to send, but they are still looking for someone who is willing and able to distribute them.
Students, like senior Shandi Peters, have offered to contact family members who may know family members going on a mission trip.
When the students send their shirts, they include a picture in the pocket of themselves, so the recipient can see who made the gift.
Some students, like senior Emma Nicosin, even receive a picture of the recipient back.
"A younger boy got the shirt I made a few years back," Nicosin said. "Just seeing him holding the shirt broke my heart."
Connors said the service-learning project also brings her joy every year.
"This is really one of my favorite projects," Connors said, "because the students get to share their talents, skills and use their time to help others."