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Young Haitian girl hugs smiling RCMP officer as he holds her in his arms.

Dresses from Depot to the world, with love

In addition to Cst. Messier (pictured) delivering dresses to girls in Haiti, a Depot custodian brought some to girls in Rwanda, where he also helped build a school and a water system. Credit: Cst. Jérôme Pellerin, Sûreté du Québec

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Handmade dresses from Depot are helping to clothe impoverished girls from around the world. Volunteers at Depot — from tailors to officers — have helped to fund, sew and deliver beautiful dresses to girls worldwide.

It all started at coffee, says Gail Kuhn, the Cadet Services manager at Depot.

"One of the ladies mentioned that their church is making dresses for 'Dress a Girl around the World'," Kuhn explained. "With the talent that these employees have, they felt they could certainly contribute to making dresses on their own time."

The project began in January, and according to Kuhn, it wasn't long until all of Depot was pitching in, either volunteering their time to work on the dresses or donating money and materials. To date, more than 250 dresses have been made — with more on the way.

This summer, 15 dresses were hand-delivered in Haiti by Cst. Scott Messier. While stationed in Port-au-Prince, he handed out the dresses to young girls at a non-profit orphanage for disabled and abandoned children. The volunteers at Depot tailored the dresses specially for each girl.

"Giving is always better than receiving, and I truly felt elated giving out the dresses," says Messier. "These wonderful girls don't speak, but it didn't matter. The look on their faces, their wide eyes, their beaming smiles, the movements of their arms, I can just tell that they were happy and saying thank you. These dresses were brand new and they were all theirs. I sensed that they knew that and it brought joy into their lives."

Depot staff have also delivered dresses to Rwanda and El Salvador, and there are plans to send them to Nicaragua, Tanzania and Nepal.

Insp. Paul Hebert, officer in charge of Support Services at Depot, says he was moved by the volunteers' efforts.

"I often stop by the Tailor Shop to observe the team and I was touched by their excitement and willingness in providing school dresses for young girls who do not have the same opportunities as we do in Canada," he says. "It is an excellent team effort by all."

Kuhn says the tailors have already expanded their work: this September, they started making shorts for boys.

Reprinted with permission from the Pony Express (No. 4, 2015).

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