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Sherri Richards, Published April 14 2012

All American Girls: Altrusa International of Fargo creates new event to promote literacy, empower women, children

FARGO – Throughout the year, the women of Altrusa International of Fargo work to promote literacy and enrich the lives of women and children, two components of the group’s mission statement.

Projects include building bookcases for Habitat for Humanity homes, hosting a baby shower for the YWCA, reading at Nokomis Child Care Center, a book fair, and the summertime Share a Story event at Rheault Farm.

There are about 30 members in the club, which has existed in Fargo-Moorhead since the 1960s.

Now members hope to add another endeavor to their staple of annual events.

The inaugural All American Girl Tea Party will be held Saturday at Faith United Methodist Church in north Fargo. It’s designed for girls and their mothers, grandmothers and aunts – and their American Girl dolls.

Girls can bring any brand 18-inch doll to the tea party. But the American Girl brand is a natural fit for an Altrusa event. Each of the American Girl dolls, whether historical or contemporary, has a series of books to her name.

More than 135 million American Girl books, and nearly 20 million America Girl dolls, have been sold since 1986, according to Ameircangirl.com.

“We feel this is one way we can promote literacy and at the same time have a good time,” says longtime Altrusa member Judi Lundstrom. “It’s a new direction that adds kind of a new layer to what we’ve been doing.”

The event will feature tea party fare, hairstyling demonstrations, face painting, crafts, a silent auction and door prizes. Giveaways include an American Girl doll, bedding set and clothing. Former Mrs. North Dakota Shelly Gompf will speak.

Proceeds from the tea party will be used to purchase books for literacy projects in Africa, Bolivia and Fargo-Moorhead.

Dawn Kaiser, service director for the Altrusa International of Fargo club, says she had heard of a similar event on the East Coast to raise funds for a water well program in Africa.

She believes the event will teach girls they can empower others all around the world.

“Altrusa International wants to work in our community, but we know our community impacts communities all over the world,” Kaiser says.