One Stitch at a Time

  • Published
  • By TSgt. Sam King
  • 916th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

One stitch at a time, that’s how one 916th Air Refueling Wing member is making a difference in the world.

Keena Alston, the wing commander’s secretary, uses her gift for sewing to make dresses for indigent girls around the world.  Alston is part of a non-profit campaign called “Dress a Girl Around the World.”

The “Dress a Girl” organization’s volunteer groups bring together fabrics, ribbons, pillowcases, etc., to create simple, patterned dresses for girls of various ages.  Those dresses are then sent to needy countries and delivered to the children by missionary volunteers.

“Some of the images we’ve seen show the girls in tattered clothing, sometimes rags or nothing at all,” said Alston.  “Getting a pretty new dress, it can be life-changing to these girls. “Since 2009, more than a million dresses were delivered to 81 countries, according to “Dress a Girl” founder, Rachel Eggum.

Each dress contains the “Dress a Girl Around the World” patch sewn on the front to show they are under the protection of the organization.

Alston said she discovered her gift for sewing after feeling a strong need to learn how to sew in 1995. She took lessons, got better and realized she was supposed to use this talent to create and help others.

While still serving on active duty in the Air Force, she had a small business making pageant gowns and flower girl dresses.  Around the same time, she heard about the “Dress a Girl” prospect.

“God gives everyone a gift, I feel sewing is my gift,” said the former personnelist.  “It is very important to give back in some way and I can do that through this effort.”

When the Air Force sent her to Japan, Alston seized the opportunity to become a “Dress a Girl” representative in Japan.  She and other volunteers formed groups and hosted sewing parties to make dresses for needy children in Asia.  

After retiring and moving here in February, she said she still wanted to help with the effort she felt so passionately about.

She also expanded her dress-making effort to help make Angel Gowns.  These are wedding dresses that are repurposed into burial gowns for still born and prematurely dead children.

Alston hopes to incorporate any 916thARW volunteers in her community effort and sewing group. Alston plans to host a wing dress-making volunteer event in the near future for anyone who would like to help the cause or even discover a new gift or hobby.

For those interested in volunteering, but with no sewing abilities, Alston said there’s an opportunity to learn a new skill for anyone who’s willing.

For more information or to volunteer, send an email to