99 year-old Lillian Weber sews a dress every single day. While that fact in and of itself is remarkable — what makes Weber’s labor of love even more inspiring is that each dress is destined for a young girl in need through the charity Little Dresses For Africa. Weber aspires to sew her 1,000th dress by her 100th birthday early next May! Read on for this heartwarming tale of how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of others — at any age.
Weber lives in Scott County, Iowa, and began making dresses for the charity in 2011 through a local seniors’ group. In early August, 2014, she had completed 840 dresses, certainly on track to achieve her goal at her current rate. But she told her local television station WQAD8, “When I get to that thousand, if I’m able to, I won’t quit. I’ll go at it again because there’s no reason to not do nothing.” While Weber almost guiltily admits she could make two dresses a day, she takes extra time to add a unique flair to each one, so every young girl gets to feel special. She starts a dress each morning, takes a break in the middle of the day, and then adds the final details in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, Little Dresses For Africa founder Rachel O’Neill says 2.5 million dresses have been distributed through the program. A Christian nonprofit, they have sent dresses to 31 countries in Africa, as well as Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, Cambodia, and U.S. communities in South Dakota and the Appalachian Mountains. Volunteers from all 50 U.S. states, as well as Australia, Canada, the U.K., and Singapore have contributed. The Little Dresses website provides simple patterns for volunteers to sew, including a super simple dress pattern that uses a pillow case as its basic form.
When interviewed by WQAD8, Weber confessed she’d love to see a little girl receiving one of her dresses, so O’Neill has pledged to personally deliver one of the creations on her next trip and bring images back for Weber. Apart from that one request, Weber is very modest about her output, saying that she has to keep herself busy and, “It’s just one of those things you learn how to do and enjoy.”