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WHITTIER – In Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, children go to work early to support their impoverished families. Some never go to school at all, unable to afford school uniforms, or forced to stay home to care for parents with AIDS. Thousands of miles away, Melissa Clare is working to improve those bleak odds. This summer, the 19-year-old will visit Kibera in Kenya as a missionary for her church, Faith Community Church in unincorporated East Whittier. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2She plans to take along dozens of dresses to distribute to the children there. “It’s not for the sake of bringing them something material,” said Clare, who works at Jo-Ann Fabrics & Crafts in Whittier. “It’s so the girls have something to look pretty in.” Clare is leaving in August to join Project Kibera. Once in Kibera, she and five other students from her church will organize a Bible camp for 100 teenagers from the slums. They will teach them about AIDS awareness, sanitation practices and leadership. For the dress drive, Clare is asking residents to donate fabric, or to purchase 21/2 yards of bright cotton fabric from Jo-Ann. Lannie Mendoza, who manages the Viking Sewing Center inside the fabric store, said it is her second experience helping make dresses for girls in Africa. She helped in a similar drive at a store in Temecula. “I learned that something very minute can make someone very happy,” she said. Residents can also donate time helping to sew the simple sheath-style dresses at Jo Ann’s on Whittier Boulevard on June 10 and June 24. So far, Clare and local volunteers have created about 23 dresses. She said she wants to have 80 dresses to donate to the children. “We have had a good response, but we still need more fabric and more help to reach our goal,” she said. Clare also hopes to get enough material to make about 80 pairs of shorts for boys in Kibera. The store is also holding a raffle to raise funds for the effort. “It’s a way for the whole community to take ownership of a project that is bringing hope to people living with disease, strife and poverty,” said Clare. [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!