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My Gold Award Story

Sewing and Donating Over 1,072 T-shirts Dresses for Girls in Need

          My name is Lexi of Girl Scout Troop 12771.  I am a 15-year-old 10th-grader from Wayzata High School working on my Gold Award Project for Girl Scouts. The Gold Award is the highest award a girl can earn in Girl Scouts. It represents the pinnacle of my 11 years as a scout and I’m excited and eager to earn this award. I have previously earned my Silver and Bronze Awards as well.

More importantly than earning the award are the little girls
who will be helped through my project.  My hope is to empower
other young girls in unfortunate situations so they can make a
better life through this project.

          My Gold Award project involves donating over 1,072 T-shirt dresses to four countries in need, hard-hit by natural disasters, famine, abuse, and other medical atrocities such as AID's. The countries accepting my dresses include orphanages located in Haiti, Kenya, Uganda, and Senegal through local missionary programs.

          My Gold Award project is called "Dress For A Change". T-shirt dresses are sewn and donated to help little girls in need and connect them to Girl Guides. Each dress has a Girl Scout Badge sewn to the skirt that will help change their world by inspiring them to join Girl Guides. Every girl receiving my dresses will receive a letter from me explaining how I earned these badges when I was their age. My hope and dream for them is for these girls to have the same opportunity I had to join Girl Guides and earn the same type of badges as me. I also hope they seek a better life for themselves. I am connecting these orphanages to their local Girl Guides by contacting them directly and asking them to bring programs and events to the orphanages.

          Prior to the start of my project I have been fundraising for my expenses by selling over 4,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies. The proceeds from my sales and cookie credits afforded my ability to purchase 1,072 brand-new girls ruffle T-shirts. My mother donated over 350 yards of fabric from her quilting stash to use to make the skirts on the T-shirts. She also is my troop leader, and had over 400 extra retired Girl Scout Junior badges that were sewn onto the skirts. 

          I held packing parties and sewing parties with my community all summer long, far exceeding the required 80 active leadership hours required for the Gold Award.  Every day during the summer of 2016, I was busy leading my project team members to help me realize the goal of donating 1,072 T-shirt dresses to orphanages abroad.  And it happened.  On September 5, 2016 all dresses were completed and subsequently delivered to orphanages in Kenya, Haiti, Senegal, and Uganda. 

          Churches that accepted my T-shirt dress donations for their missions programs include Plymouth Covenant Church of Plymouth, MN (Kenya Missions), Gateway Fellowship Church of Poulsbo, WA (Senegal Missions), Church Under Grace of Maple Valley, WA (Uganda Missions), Healing Haiti Organization (Haiti Missions).

          The primary sewers of the project was the Women of the West Quilt Guild of Plymouth, MN. Other sewers included Gratz Sewing Center, Golden Valley, MN, and Creative Sewing Center, Minnetonka, MN. Contributors donating time and space, discounts, and publicity include S.R. Harris Fabric Outlet, Brooklyn Park, MN, Blue Bamboo Quilt Shop, Plymouth, MN, Freight Dynamics, Plymouth, MN, and Minnesota Quilter Organization!

          Over 120 yards of beautiful quilting fabric was donated to my project by the quilters in my community.  I sent a total of 1,072 dresses with a message about joining Girl Guides, going to orphanages located in Kenya, Haiti, Senegal and Uganda.  All dresses had a Girl Scout badge sewn to them to inspire the little girls.

  • Kenya:      175 dresses, plus 100 T-shirts and 30 yards fabric, and 10 brand new Brother Sewing Machines were sent to the Light of Hope School located in Naivasha, Kenya.

  • Haiti:         600 dresses were sent to the orphanages Grace Village, La Loo, La Phare, and Montfort, located in Port au Prince, Haiti.

  • Senegal:  172 dresses were sent to the Wolof Children in villages, located in northwest Senegal.  At the website, click on missions, and then global descipleship missions, to learn about the Senegal missions.

  • Kenya:        50 dresses, plus 185 T-shirts and 40 yards fabric, was sent to Imara International Orphanage in Kenya.

  • Kenya:      150 dresses were sent to Heshima Kenya Refugee Program (Safe Houses in Kenya).

          My project is sustainable in several ways.  To begin, if just one of the 1,072 girls joins Girl Scouts, the world will indeed become a better place. She will not fall victim to her circumstances, she will rise above them and find the strength to better herself. She will learn skills to make a living, and become the girl she was born to be. 

          Going forward, Dress For A Change has partnered with Heshima Kenya's Safe House Program for young refugee girls in East Africa. 

          Young refugee women and their children in the Safe Houses are building a new life together through Heshima’s holistic programming that provides protection, education and a supportive community of empowerment to one of the most vulnerable populations in the world. I hope that sewing clubs and quilters across America will join me, and continue to sew my dresses, to give these refugee girls some pretty dresses to wear, too!  

 Through this website, your sewing club can get involved too!  It's fun and
rewarding to sew and donate T-shirt dresses! Click on the tabs "Making A Dress"
and "Donate" to learn more.  Dresses can easily be shipped to Heshima Kenya 
headquarters in Chicago, and the missionaries subsequently deliver them to the
women and girls in Kenya.  Together, we can make the world a better place.

          Dress For A Change Project could not have materialized without the generosity of my community who embraced my project, and whom I owe my gratitude. Namely, the Women of the West Quilt Guild members of Plymouth, MN were the primary seamstresses making the dresses.  From June to August we met together at Blue Bamboo Quilt Shop “open sew sessions”.  We all brought our sewing machines and made dresses for hours every Monday.  In August, Creative Sewing Center of Minnetonka, MN, held a “jamboree sewing session” for me.  For five hours with their faithful customers, we worked as a team, with over 10 sewing machines running to complete different stages of over 50 dresses.  Every day I sent 10 to 25 dress kits to women in my community willing to sew for me, and every day, completed dresses were returned to me at my drop off location.  More recently I worked with Freight Dynamics of Plymouth, MN who shipped 300 dresses to Uganda on my behalf.

         This project is meaningful at every level on its surface.  But the amount of gratitude I feel for everyone who helped me this summer cannot be measured.  I learned a lot from the women who sewed with and for me.  I believe that my project helped change the world, one girl at a time.  I discovered a need in the poor orphanages around the world, connected with my community, and took action to serve other communities in need.  The Girl Scout Gold Award is by far the most challenging award I have ever embarked on, and it has on its merit returned the highest reward.

Special Thanks To:

Women of the West
Quilt Guild
(Plymouth, MN)

Blue Bamboo Quilt Shop
(Plymouth, MN)

Chartwell Financial Advisory
(Minneapolis, MN)

Creative Sewing Center (Minnetonka, MN)

S.R. Harris Fabric Outlet
(Brooklyn Park, MN)

Freight Dynamics
(Plymouth, MN)


  • A special thank you to the amazing ladies of Women of the West Quilt Guild members who were the primary sewers for my project.  They helped sew most of the 1,072 T-shirt dresses, and they donated over 120 yards of fabric to my project.
  • Thank you to Liz Vikla at Blue Bamboo Quilt Shop who gave me access to her classroom where I met with my sewing machine with WOW members to sew T-shirt dresses every Monday this summer.

  • Thanks to Scott and Sid Harris who gave me a special price on 300 yards of fabric.  Without their help, I would not have been able to afford the fabric I needed to complete my project.

  • I feel I need to thank Diane Simmons at Creative Sewing Center who also supported my project by providing me a Jamboree Sewing Day with her customers. Together we made 50 T-shirt dresses.  

  • Thank you to Mary Manns at MN Quilters for featuring my Gold Awrd Story in their August newsletter, and helping by sewing many dresses.

  • Carolyn at Freight Dynamics helped me ship 300 dresses to Uganda.  She took great care to palletize and wrap 6 large boxes totaling 165 pounds.

  • Chartwell Financial Advisory who donated 9 brand new Brother Sewing Machines.

  • Creative Sewing Center of Minnetonka, who donated 1 brand new Brother Sewing Machine, and helped facilitate the shipment receipts of hundreds of Ruffle T-Shirts donated by the greater Minneapolis Community.

  • Sun Sailor Editors who featured my Gold Award story to the citizens of Plymouth.

  • Amy Hockert with Fox 9 News who aired my Gold Award story to the greater Minneapolis Community.

  • Plymouth Magazine Editors who featured my Gold Award story to the citizens of Plymouth.

Senegal Girls
Uganda Girls
Kenya Girls
Wolof Kids
Haiti Girls
Uganda Kids
Connect With Me!  Please share this Story with your troop, church or organization.  Start your own T-shirt dress donation project for little girls in need everywhere!  Add a Girl Scout badge to the skirt. Badges can be found on eBay.