The Antrim United Methodist Church Women honored Fran Fensky for her donation of pillowcases that the UMW transform into dresses for little girls in need in foreign countries and the U.S.

Fran Fensky thought she was going out for supper with a couple of friends June 20 in Stafford County but instead she got a big surprise.

Members of the Antrim Church United Methodist Women treated Fensky to a special lunch at Mom’s Bar And Grill in Seward. The Antrim UMW make little girl dresses out of pillowcases and Fensky has donated a lot of pillowcases to their cause.

“I was speechless. I didn’t know what to think. I was just speechless,” Fensky said. “I thought I was having lunch with a two women but there was a bunch. They picked me up and brought me home. It was fun.”

Fensky, who lives in Hudson, said she started making rag rugs to pass the time while her husband was in the hospital. She needed something to do and rag rugs filled the bill.

But she had a lot of pillowcases left over and didn’t know what to do with them until she discovered the ladies at the Antrim UMW and their dress project.

Julie Christie, an Antrim UMW member, said the ladies were so thankful for Fensky’s help, they decided to throw her a surprise party at Mom’s Bar and Grill in Seward because Fensky’s rag rugs are sold there.

Antrim UMW has been making dresses for little girls in need since 2012. The dresses have been sent to several foreign countries and some went to girls in America.

The dresses are made out of pillowcases. Fensky got involved in providing material for the dresses when she read about the UMW project in the St. John News. She buys sheet and pillowcase sets at garage sales. She make rag rugs out of the sheets but not the pillowcases.

When she read the story, she contacted the Antrim UMW and donated her leftover pillowcases, Fensky said.

The UMW has been spending Wednesdays in June stitching together the pillowcases into little dresses. They meet in the basement of the church that is southwest of St. John and put the dresses together. Each year they make from 50 to 100 dresses for girls ages 3-10 depending on material available. They are shipped to various countries around the world including Mexico, South Africa, Puerto Rico, Guatemala and even to cities in America. Where the dresses are shipped depends on where they can get free freight. Rather than pay to have the dress- es shipped, UMW sends them along with people who are going on mission trips, Christie said.

“We ask them to take them along and hand deliver them,” she said.

Ninety dresses are now ready to go to Mexico. Chelsea Shrack from the Pratt area is heading to Mexico in a few weeks and will take the dresses with her.

Besides the pillowcases, much of the supplies needed to make the dresses is donated to the group. Items donated include elastic, bias tape, rick rack and others materials.

The group invites other churches to send people over to help make dresses. While this has been a women’s project, one man volunteered and helped put in elastic and pinned tape to dresses.

Before the ladies made dresses, they started out making blankets and tying quilts. But that took a lot of time and effort and they didn’t get many completed in a year. One of the ladies saw other groups making dresses and shared that idea with the group. The UMW President Becky Hunley liked the idea and they started the dress making.

At first, they cut out the dress material and then sewed the dresses but that took a lot of time. Then they discovered that pillowcases worked so much better and faster because they were already sewn together. And that has led to hundreds of little girls getting brightly colored dresses from a group of ladies in a small church in south central Kansas.