As a corporate image consultant, Anna Hinson knows that new, well-fitting clothes make a person feel confident. This is true not only for adults but also for children. In 2014 Hinson started Easter Dresses for the Eastside, a ministry of sewing Easter dresses for girls in Hinson’s underserved neighborhood in Atlanta. Hinson told byFaith how this ministry has affected her, her volunteer “sewcial workers,” and the children of her community.

How did you get the idea to start making Easter dresses for girls in your neighborhood?

Many years ago I participated in a similar program that serves African girls. It was a great experience, but it left me feeling that I needed to do more in my own community. When I found myself in the supportive community of City Church Eastside (PCA), the grace of the Holy Spirit revealed Himself to me in a relentless way! I knew I had the love, support, and encouragement of a community that wanted to do this with me.

How did the girls respond to getting to choose new dresses for Easter?

To see a little girl light up as she walks into a room that has been set up like a boutique is so exciting! Each girl walked through and selected her own dress, which was then wrapped in tissue and put in a pretty shopping bag. Then they selected hair accessories to go with their dresses and were given books and Easter chocolates. The excitement was contagious. It was really beautiful to watch them have so much fun.

How did you manage volunteers who wanted to help but did not know how to sew?

I wanted as many women as possible to be part of this community experience, so I created an assembly-line process to make 60 dresses quickly and split the dressmaking over a number of days in February and March. Volunteers also helped with material donations, and we had some volunteers who helped on distribution day and manned the boutique. I refer to all the volunteers as “sewcial workers.” This was truly a community effort.

If individuals wanted to replicate this ministry in other communities, what advice would you pass on to them?

Find your audience first! Find local organizations that minister to children in your community or homes and shelters that serve women and children. The occasion does not have to be Easter —  it can be Christmas or the start of the school year.

Has this project changed the way you view your neighbors or your neighborhood?

We are supported, encouraged, and empowered by our church leadership to go out and serve using our special God-given gifts. This initiative reached the hearts of our neighbors, not only the members of our church. We had girls as young as 10 who helped during the sewing process and helped man the boutique. It was confirmation for me that all people find great joy in serving.