High school student leaves mark around the world with dresses mission

Young children wearing dresses by DDOC (Photo: Maura Secrest)
Young children wearing dresses by DDOC (Photo: Maura Secrest)

SULLIVAN, Ind. (WTHI) – Maura Secrest has always dreamed of leaving her mark.

“When I was 12 years old, I felt the call of God telling me to take my stand and make a difference in the world,” she said.

Now a freshman at Sullivan High School, her mark is being made around the globe… 11 countries to be exact.

“I’ll ask the ladies to sew simply handmade dresses and we send those dresses off to third world countries with missionaries,” she said.

It’s part of Dresses for Daughters of Christ, a mission that she created. With the help of local churches, organizations and people, groups collect and sew dresses to send to young girls throughout the world. For Maura, it’s about spreading love.

“You know whenever you went shopping with your mom and you got that dress up dress and you felt like a princess,” she said, “I just want these little girls to feel like that, just that moment of knowing that they’re loved by someone.”

For the past two years, Maura has collected 2,000 dresses. The total has grown so much that Maura has only had to sew one dress herself, which she admits she’s never had sewing experience prior to.

“It was rough, but it had its unique type of beauty in my heart. To me, it was one of the most beautiful dresses,” she said, “It was a journey, definitely hard to get through it, it takes a lot of patience. I have huge respect for these ladies who make all these dresses for me,”

Different missionaries have traveled to various countries to deliver the dresses from DDOC. This year, Maura is traveling herself to deliver the dresses to young girls in Tanzania in Africa. She leaves in December. She says her school has also helped her out in supporting her mission.

“We’ve had a wonderful turnout with the school,” she said, “We’re doing something in our EP classes where you do a community project. Two teachers actually decided to do a penny war to help sponsor me to go on my mission trip. So that is really touching to me that they would want to do something like that. Also, a sewing class has sewn dresses for me, they actually decided to take this on and sew dresses.”

Over time, Maura has collected dozens of pictures from young girls in different countries who have received a dress. For her, it’s a reminder that all dreams are possible.

“It’s definitely a unique feeling,” she said, “You know, you never really think that you would go into something like this, and it would turn out to have such a great turn out, but it happened.”

What started as a simple idea has turned into reality, in fact, it’s also turned into a possible career path for Maura.

“I met a missionary and she actually majored in world health,” she said, “and I’ve always wanted to do something with pediatrics, pediatric oncology, and she goes to IU and IU sponsors her to go on mission trips. I would really love to do that throughout my college career and possibly even throughout the rest of my life, just do world health.”

Maura is still accepting monetary donations and dresses. If you’re interested, you can reach her through email at dressesfordaughtersofchrist@gmail.com. There is also a GoFundMe page for monetary donations.