Clothing for kids, by kids

High schoolers make Christmas pajamas for local preschoolers

By Rachael Scarborough King / The Bulletin
Published: January 03. 2007 5:00AM PST

Lu Ann Smith’s clothing class at Mountain View High School in Bend was a buzz of activity on a recent morning.

Most students worked on projects for themselves: one modeled a shiny purple cocktail dress, and another asked for help with her crocheted hat. But several others were running pairs of child-size flannel pajamas through their sewing machines, a Christmas gift for local preschoolers.

Every year since the early 1990s, students in Smith’s class have been making sets of pajamas for Central Oregon Head Start students. This year, the class donated 295 pairs to Head Start.

Even though she passes out the pajamas in early December, Smith said the project is ongoing throughout the year because clothes not finished in time are saved for the next year.

“There are five basic skills that go into making them,” Smith said. “If they have those five basic skills down, they can pretty much do a lot of patterns on their own.”

Smith has been teaching at Mountain View since 1985 and now has about 120 students in her four clothing classes. When she started the pajamas project in the early 1990s, her class produced about 35 pairs. The project is sponsored by the Bend Soroptimists Club.

Each student makes two pairs of pajamas, Smith said. The first pair usually takes about eight days to make, while the second pair only takes about two days.

Megan Anderson, 17, said she has taken the clothing class several times. She estimated that she has made between eight and 12 pairs of pajamas.

“Now (Smith) just has me fixing and finishing what people haven’t done well,” Megan said. “It’s fun – I like especially knowing that it goes to little kids.”

Megan, a senior, will be graduating a semester early in February and attending fashion design school in Monterey, Calif.

Forrest Nelson, 17, said the pajamas were his first project in clothing class, and “it was a lot harder than what I thought.” Forrest, a junior, helped out when children from Head Start locations close to Mountain View came to receive their gifts.

“I really liked it when the kids came in and they picked out their own PJs,” Forrest said. “That was really satisfying.”

Tony Gordon, 18, said he enjoyed interacting with the 3- to 5-year-olds as well.

“It was so cute; they were so excited and eager just to get their presents ’cause they were told it was a surprise,” he said.

Tony, a senior, said even though making the pajamas was somewhat “ho-hum,” he thinks the class project is beneficial to the community.

“I think it’s very important putting our kids, our high schoolers, and just showing them little things they can do can make a big difference,” he said. “Just seeing the smiles on the kids’ faces really shows that a little project in school goes a big way.”

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