Carole L. Sanek

Imagine this, somewhere in the world in a poverty-stricken country a big box arrives filled with pretty dresses of all sizes.  The excitement levels overflow as dresses are handed out and women and little girls are transformed into a feeling of being pretty, something that has up until now only been a dream. Can you imagine the laughter?  Can you picture the smiling faces, the sparkling eyes, and possibly the tears?

Every girl in the world wishes for a pretty dress.  If you could be there when the box arrives you would see the gratitude in their hearts and you would hear the nervous giggles.  The air would surround you with a feeling of joy and excitement that extends up into the clouds.  It hovers over everyone’s head because the moment that box is opened and the dresses are given out, everyone is suddenly overcome with the realization that someone one they will never meet, wants them to have what they deserve – a pretty dress.

It’s magical and yet it is very real.  It starts here at Breezy Oaks RV Park with a group of women from all over the United States who meet every Friday morning and sew their hearts out with kindness, love and caring.

I was invited out to see this group of kindness in action and there were times when I had tears in my eyes hearing the stories of how this all started and how it has grown.  The pictures of girls and women wearing what they believe is a ball gown equal to that of a fairy princess made my heart happy and that is exactly what this group is called – Happy Hearts.

Nine states across the country were represented in this room and everyone there does something different to get this project to completion.  It all starts with a pillowcase.  The ladies are always shopping thrift stores, garage sales, collecting donations over the summer and bringing them with them when they arrive to winter in Florida.  

Taking a pillowcase and turning it into a dress is done in 11 steps and these ladies have their responsibilities down pat.  Every dress is different. There is lace, there are clever buttons and some get appliques, but no dress leaves without a finishing touch of the magic of loving hearts and hands.

Judy Van Klompenberg and Dee Bassett have been doing this for years in Michigan where they live during the summer and they brought the idea to Breezy Oaks as a charitable project that they could donate to many children and women through the First Baptist Church of Bushnell.   Dee keeps everyone running in sync and Judy, well she has done so many wonderful things to make this a success that her heart must beat with happiness.

Happy Hearts dresses go to two orphanages in Mexico, to Nicaragua and to Haiti and they look forward to adding more recipient areas to this project.

Everyone who touches each dress touches it with kindness because these ladies understand the depth of the meaning behind what they do.

I met Betty who will be 81 years old this year.  Betty is bionic due to all the joint surgeries she has had but her fingers are certainly nimble. She takes dresses home, pins the bias tape around the necks and sleeves and brings them back the following week for completion.

When I arrived, the room was empty in a matter of minutes the room was filled with sewing machines, boxes filled with bias tape, lace, buttons, appliques, pillowcases, thread, laughter and love.  The hum of the machines mixed with the hum of happiness filled the room with warmth.

Happy Hearts is the perfect name for this group because not only are these incredible lady’s hearts filled with happiness, the happy hearts continue to burst with joy wherever the dresses are sent.

It is wonderful that Breezy Oaks RV Park has such a dedicated group of women who want to help the world one pretty dress at a time.

For more information on how you can help by making a donation contact Breezy Oaks RV Park at 352-569-0300.