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Woman sews dresses for orphans, wins High 5

By Alex Boye | Posted - Dec. 2, 2011 at 9:01 a.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- Our High 5 this week goes to a woman who is helping young girls in Africa feel special, one dress at a time.

Fabric and scraps of embellishments may not look like much until you see what Joanne Andersen uses them to create. She loves to sew and to make things look pretty. When Joanne's niece needed help with a humanitarian project to provide dresses for orphans in Africa, she knew just who to ask.

"She said, ‘These little dresses they send look like hospital gowns. Could you fix them?'" Joanne recalled.

Using scraps of fabric she's collected over the years and donated material, Joanne made new dresses, complete with pizazz.

"Some of them I've made them look like they had a vest on. Some have collars and some just have very little but it's trying to make them so they'll be appealing to a little girls and make her feel special," Joanne explained.


She's always doing things and nobody ever knows it. Nobody ever sees the hard work that she does.

–Vicki Andersen


She has sewn nearly 100 dresses. After Christmas, her niece will deliver each one to an orphan in Africa.

"My contribution is nothing, but it will make somebody happy and that's all I can think about," Joanne said.

Her sister, Vicki Andersen, nominated her for the High 5. "She's always doing things and nobody ever knows it," she said. "Nobody ever sees the hard work that she does."

"I just wanted people to know what a wonderful person she is," Vicki added.

"It's a joint effort and it's not just all me and I feel a little bit, terrifically embarrassed," Joanne admitted. "I certainly wasn't doing this for glory. I was doing this for love."

"She has a kind heart and she loves people," Vicki said.

Joanne says she hopes the girls enjoy the dresses and that she would love to receive a picture of one of those girls wearing one of her creations.

As a thank you for her service, our High 5 partners, Les Schwab, presented Joanne with a gift basket.

If you know someone in the community who is making a difference and deserves some recognition, nominate them here.

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Alex Boye

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