SOUTHERN ILLINOIS -- When she turned 90, Florida resident Joy Casino decided to start a new "career" making dresses for girls whose families had no means to provide such a luxury.
Now 97, Joy is putting away her needle and thread, having completed 10,000 dresses.
"Those dresses have been shipped to girls ages 2 to 12 all over the world," said Kendall Brune, noting counties such as Nigeria, Vietnam, Honduras, and Venezuela.
Among his multifaceted professional life, Brune is the owner and administrator of the Jacksonville, Florida assisted living facility that Joy calls home.
"I have a lot of connections to get the dresses out," said Brune. "I told her if she could make them I would get them distributed."
Now, 600 of those dresses have made their way to southern Illinois where the Fowler-Bonan Foundation's Clothes for Kids will be working with area churches and organizations to distribute them, accord to Sen. Dale Fowler, R-Harrisburg.
"I met Sen. Fowler and fell in love with what he was doing," said Brune.
Fowler said he was "blown away" at the donation.
"These dresses are adorable," he said.
Joy is used to making things happen.
She and her husband Danny, who passed away just over a year ago at the age of 95, were the oldest married World War II veterans still living together.
"They were married for 72 years," said Patti Ryan, the couple's daughter.
Like her husband, Joy is a World War II vet who served in the U.S. Navy.
"She was selected to go to Washington, D.C. to work in the disbursement center," said Patti.
In fact, Joy was in charge of shipping the supplies that built the USS Midway, now a Naval Museum in San Diego, CA.
She also walked in the first Navy parade staged.
Her team walked in the funeral procession for Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Her story is archived in the World War II museum in New Orleans.
She raised six children.
Joy has been a speaker at area churches and organization on behalf of the WAVES, Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service, a unit of the U.S. Naval Reserve during World War II. The recipient of numerous awards, she has donated more than 1,000 hours to the Navy Wives Club and Pablo Towers.
In 2018, she was a Top 10 Finalist for the Eve Award in Jacksonville, "a really big deal," according to Patti.
"She turned 97 in October," said Patti. "She was keeping track of the number of dresses she made. She wanted to hit that 10,000 mark and she did."
Joy has now passed the torch of her endeavor to others since her vision is now hampering her ability to sew.
Brune said his Arise Veterans Foundation funded the materials, but Joy and her daughters shopped for the supplies.
"Her only request was that I use my ministry to give the dresses away," said Brune. "I could not sell them or use them to raise money."
Fowler said his own foundation is grateful to be included in the project.
"We are working with area churches and organizations to distribute them," he said.
Patti is not surprised at her mother's efforts and success.
"She says she is anointed by the Lord and the Lord gets her through it," she said.