Choosing a piece of fabric from the table, Felicity Kenny heads to the sewing machine. Placing her foot on the peddle, she places the fabric under the needle, carefully stitching together the pieces. The result: a dress for a girl in need. Thanks to online learning, Felicity has more time to develop her sewing skills and can now finish making one dress in just two hours.
Felicity, a 10th-grade student at Ohio Virtual Academy (OHVA), sews dresses for Dress a Girl Around the World (DAG), an international nonprofit organization that provides garments to girls in third-world countries. Felicity feels privileged to help make a difference in the lives of others.
“I believe being other-centered (instead of self-centered) is a key reason we are put on this planet,” she said.
Some volunteers for DAG hand-sew the dresses while others deliver the clothes on mission trips around the world. But the dresses, Felicity said, are more than just clothes; they help give girls confidence and boost their self-esteem.
The dresses also bring a sense of safety. Volunteers sew a DAG tag onto the outside of the clothing as a symbol to the girls and to others that someone is looking out for their best interest.
Despite being thousands of miles away, Felicity knows that she is making a personal connection with the girls who receive the garments she makes. Rather than just shipping the clothes, volunteers hand-deliver them on mission trips. When a girl receives a dress, the volunteer puts the dress on the girl over her existing clothes and tells her how much she is loved, how special she is, and that someone had her in mind when they sewed the dress just for her.
DAG volunteers like Felicity also host sewing sessions and classes to teach others how to make the garments. She hosts these classes alongside her mother, Nancy, once a month at their local YMCA.
“I help my mom teach other participants how to sew and we pray for the girls who will be receiving our dresses,” Felicity said. “Then we teach them how to make pillowcase-style and T-shirt-style dresses with special Dress a Girl tags on them.”
Attending school online allows Felicity the time to balance her work with DAG and excel in school. In addition to attending OHVA, she takes college-level courses and gains college credits while still in high school through the Ohio College Credit Plus program. After graduating from OHVA, Felicity plans to continue taking college courses as she works towards a bachelor’s degree.
Nancy is thankful for the opportunities which OHVA provides Felicity and for the work that they are able to do through DAG.
“OHVA has allowed us to be closer as a mother and daughter in many ways, including learning many things side by side,” Nancy said. “I wouldn’t trade our years at OHVA for anything.”
Felicity hopes that her work with DAG will inspire others to find ways to be of service in their communities and across the globe. The group of DAG volunteers led by Felicity and her mother have made more than 200 dresses to send to girls since they started, and they plan to continue making more.
“I hope to inspire others to take every opportunity to leave every day better than they found it and to find ways to touch lives with acts of kindness that cannot be paid back,” she said.