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'Women Helping Others' group is making a difference

At Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church in Gasport, the congregation is involved in many projects throughout the year, involving everyone from the youth group and Vacation Bible School students to the senior members of the church. They sponsor groups and activities at Zion and with other area Lutheran churches. Zion houses a food and clothing pantry, has an active youth group and newly formed men’s group — and everyone pitches in to get things done.

When Paula Travis saw a need to start a chapter of Becca’s Closet at Zion, she called upon women to be a part of WHO, “Women Helping Others.”

Since its inception a year ago, WHO has taken part in several projects, including hosting several blood drives for Upstate New York Transplant Services and hosting basket raffles to help with a community member’s medical bills. Becca’s Closet, a project that provides formal wear to school-aged girls so they can attend prom, homecoming or graduation in style is an enormous project that needed support beyond the gathering of dresses. WHO stepped up last November to organize a fashion show and basket raffle to promote the dress giveaways and raise the necessary funds to make the dress and accessory giveaway possible.

'Women Helping Others' group is making a difference

Image: light pink prom dresses

“Last year, the fashion show gave girls a chance to be a princess for the day. We recruited eight girls from age 6 to 26 to model about 50 of the formal wear dresses available free to local girls who may not have the means for such an extravagant purchase. We reached out to local property/venue owners, trying to find a place to hold the event. Thankfully, Blissett’s of Medina, which also donated many new gowns and dresses, sponsored the show. Rather than paying a huge hall rental fee, we wanted to use the funds to help young ladies with the alterations, accessories, hair and makeup,” Travis said.

WHO collected gift baskets and gift certificates for the raffle and orchestrated a fashion show that included music and entertainment.

“Women are so busy with their day-to-day lives and many do not want to attend weekly or monthly meetings. Our WHO group generally meets every two months, and then come together when there is a need or event, “ Travis said. “They make time when their help is needed, and anybody in the community is welcome to be a part of the group and be involved in the specific projects that interest them.”

The dress giveaway events at four locations wrapped up last weekend (although girls may still make an appointment by contacting Travis). The planning will now begin for the second annual fashion show and basket raffle, and Travis encourages area women to pitch in and be a part of WHO’s efforts. The event was planned as a showcase for Becca’s Closet and to help take away the stigma of “free” prom dresses.

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