Dubuque women helping Sandy-ravaged Haiti - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque women helping Sandy-ravaged Haiti

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Close to three years after its catastrophic earthquake, Haiti is now mourning the death of more than 50 people, killed by then-Hurricane Sandy.

The storm displaced some 18,000 people. They were among the more than 370,000 already living in tent camps after the earthquake.

Some eastern Iowan women feel moved to help.

With a stitch and a snip, a roomful of nearly 10 women Tuesday afternoon were doing what they could for a impoverished country 2,000 miles away.

Organized by sister Lillian Connolly of the Sisters of Mercy, a group of women meet every Tuesday afternoon in the common room at Applewood I Apartments in Dubuque to sew dresses for women and girls in Haiti.

"It's an honor to be able to help in some way, and we, personally, can't go, but we can certainly use our time," Connolly said. "We don't consider it work. We consider it a loving activity."

She started the project six months ago. About a dozen more volunteers and 300 dresses later, the need is stronger than ever.

"The storm, of course, has made it much worse," Connolly said, referring to Hurricane Sandy. "It seems like they get hit more frequently and it's a never-ending problem, and they just begin to get some kind of living standard and then that disappears."

St. Anthony Catholic church in Dubuque sends parishioners on medical mission trips to Haiti. They take the dresses with them.

For parish member Joanne Haywood, who has sewn her whole life, the weekly Tuesday afternoon gathering is about so much more than sewing.

"I enjoy doing it and it's a social life, plus it makes you feel good that you're doing something as an older person and making someone happy," Haywood said. "If all of us can make someone happy every day, it would be a great world, wouldn't it?"

Connolly said she experiences the same kind of satisfaction.

"They ask me when I'm going to quit, and I say maybe when I move or die," she said with a laugh.

Much of the fabric for the dresses come from donated pillowcases and sheets. The women are accepting fabric, elastic, bias tape and other supplies, including money.

To donate materials, money or time, contact Sister Lillian Connolly at 319-329-4063.

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