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Sew For Peace


As the war in Iraq continues, U.S. soldiers are not the only ones receiving care packages and kindness from the states. A group of women in Pennsylvania has a unique way of reaching out to those in the war zone. They are sending hundreds of homemade dresses to girls as part of a project called “Sew For Peace.” Jim Melchiorre reports.


(Locator: Harrisburg, Pa.)

Thursday mornings, Paxton United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is like an assembly line.

Cecilia Sevon/Member, Paxton United Methodist Church: “I think it’s the little girls.
 I think it kind of touched our hearts.” 

It started when Pastor Rick Denison shipped out as chaplain to an Air National Guard unit, and ended up in a village north of Baghdad.

The Rev. Richard Denison/Pastor, Paxton United Methodist Church: “One of the little girls looked up and said to me, ‘Mister, do you have any dresses?’ And we thought of the kind of clothing we have in the United States, and it wasn’t appropriate to Arabic culture where they prefer long dresses.  So I thought to write back to the folks here at Paxton Church, and I sent them by e-mail some pictures of the kind of clothing that the little girls there wear and asked them if they could make dresses that looked something like this.”

They could, and they did.  Twenty eight dresses. 

Their reputation spread, and their pastor sent another e-mail, ordering 900 more.

Ellen Shatto/Member, Paxton United Methodist Church: “We can see our dresses being distributed. We love to get the pictures of the children and see the smiles on their faces and things like that.”

So far, 500 dresses have been shipped.

Ellen Shatto/Member, Paxton United Methodist Church: “We’re called to be peacemakers. Maybe just by these expressions of love we can change attitudes.”

But “Sew For Peace” is about more than just clothing.

The Rev. Rick Denison: “So much death and destruction occurs over in Iraq and this was a very people-to-people way of showing that someone in America loves and cares. That we have a lot of things in common, we all love our children, we love our families and we all hope for the same peace.”


The “Sew For Peace” project has already recruited other churches in the Harrisburg area, and organizers report receiving inquiring phone calls from across the country.

In addition to the dresses, the ladies at Paxton Church also ship sandals that are donated to their project. You can contact the church for more information at 717-545-7994 or email Ellen Shatto at

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