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Cut from the same cloth
Outreach, club, Pitman students unite for dress giveaway
Burt Gilpin of the Kiwanis Club of Turlock admires some of the handcrafted dresses students sewed in Anne Cornells home economics class at Pitman High School that will be donated to the Salvation Army for girls in need.

Whether it’s a ballerina tutu or a costume, receiving a dress is a special moment for a little girl. Pitman High School students are helping to make the Christmas time even more special by providing local, underprivileged girls with handmade dresses.   

For the past twelve years, the Kiwanis Club of Turlock, Salvation Army and Anne Cornell’s high school home economics class have worked together to serve the youth in Turlock. Through Cornell’s home economics elective course 30 students learn to make dresses as one of their many projects. Students make dresses two times during the academic year, once near Christmas and one near Easter, which are then donated to the Salvation Army to distribute to children in need.

“They’re given for free to underprivileged children and according to Major (Debi) Shrum at the Salvation Army they don’t last very long when they’re handed out,” said Burt Gilpin, a Kiwanis member for over 20 years who was at Pitman on Monday to accept the dresses. 

A relatively inexpensive enterprise for Kiwanis, the fabric purchase of $120 for the project outweighs the cost as it aligns with the Kiwanis service-focused mission. The club has purchased the quality fabric at a reasonable rate from the local downtown store Cloth and Quilts for several years. Cornell has helped several classes of students learn to sew each year, noting the importance of the tri-fold community effort. 

“It’s a great project for the kids. They learn to sew and they are giving back. It’s a dual purpose for us,” said Cornell.

The project has garnered attention around the Pitman campus, even serving as incentive for some students to enroll in the class. With the recent change in school curriculum with the implementation of Common Core, Cornell anticipates increased enrollment in the course to fulfill the arts elective requirement. This year junior Heavenlei Marsaw enrolled in the class to learn to make clothes for herself as well as for younger girls of need in the community.

“I heard about the project before I enrolled. I wanted to learn to sew and give back to the community,” said Marsaw.