STURGEON BAY, Wis. - Deb Ehlers enjoys teaching her eighth grade students how to sew.
"These skills, especially the sewing, they'll be able to use life long. They need to hem a pair of pants, they'll be able to do that," she explained.
The Family and Consumer Science educator at Southern Door Middle and High School in Sturgeon Bay teaches her students more than just how to thread a needle and sew on a button. After being inspired by a friend's workshop recently, she's bringing the Dress a Girl Around the World program into her classroom.
"Well at first, like making dresses, is kind of like 'Oh great.' I've got to make girl stuff. But yeah, it's pretty cool just helping people that can't afford it," said student David Willming.
Willming and his classmates created 17 handmade dresses to donate to children living in poverty.
"There's so much bad stuff these days, it's like nice to do something nice," he said.
Student Chloe Lacrosse added, "I think it's a really good idea to help kids who are in need. I think it's also creative. It's just a good feeling."
The Dress a Girl Around the World non-profit organization started more than eight years ago. To date, it has delivered more than one million dresses to 81 countries including the U.S. Organizers say the donations bring dignity to at risk girls, empower them to fight sex trafficking, and can set them up to be successful in life.
"When the girls receive their dresses, I hope that they will realize that there are people of all ages in the world who care and want to help them, said Ehlers.
"I'm hoping for them to be really happy and grateful that they got a pretty dress," Eighth Grader Lillian Bongle said.
According to Lacrosse, a project like this is important.
"Because some people don't have the things that we have. So I feel like if we help them, it could help encourage other people."
Ehlers is proud of her students' efforts. "It gives a warm, fuzzy feeling for them."
Because they're sewing more than just a garment to earn a grade. With every stitch, they're providing hope.
School staff and community members donated the materials to make the dresses.
Ehlers plans to make this an annual class project.
"It's pretty easy. It's nice having a machine to do it. In the old days, they had to do it by hand," explained student David Willming.