Project First Day is a labor of love performed at first only by Susan Stewart, a woman who has made a living sewing from her home in Pittsburg, Kansas, for 10 years.
Thinking about the more than 3,000 Joplin students who were displaced by the recent tornado, with five of the district’s schools destroyed, the first day of school for these children who have seen more than years should allow was something that needed to be more special than ever.
All across the nation, donations of money and school supplies have been pouring in for the children and teachers of Joplin, but Susan Stewart is focused on something much more specific. For her, the first day of school always meant a new outfit and as a nationally known clothing designer for a sewing magazine, a sewing conference instructor, prize-winning quilter and published author, Stewart began her stitching campaign of Project First Day, using all of her contacts to round up national support.
The results were overwhelmingly positive. All over North America boxes upon boxes of clothing kept pouring in every day of the week. Some contained one outfit; others several dozen. Hundreds of garments have been donated so far and every hour of every day the figures change as the project has swiftly taken on a life all its own.
August 17th marked the first day of school for more than three thousand girls and boys from Joplin and the effort of love that presented them with new clothes is to be both admired and applauded.