Women collecting wedding dresses to make gowns for babies who pass away

GRANDVILLE, Mich. -- A group of women in Ottawa County is collecting wedding gowns to be turned into dresses for babies who pass away.

An upcoming event to collect the gowns is being put on with the help of the local chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation, a group that provides grief counseling for women who've experienced the death of a baby.

Organizers say it's a beautiful thing for women to donate the gowns they wore on one of the best days of their life to benefit women on the worst day of theirs.

"Having one stillbirth is just absolutely devastating, to have two is soul crushing," said Leah Tharp, vice chair of the West Michigan chapter of the Star Legacy Foundation.

Thrap has experienced loss that no mother should ever experience, but it happens more often than one might think.

"It happens at least once or twice here in Grand Rapids every day," she said.

When Tharp lost a son and a daughter, she said goodbye to them in custom dresses made by volunteers at Abagail's Attic, who turn the wedding dresses into little gowns for babies who are stillborn or who never make it out of the NICU.

"These gowns mean so much to us," Tharp said. "To be able to have something beautiful to send the baby off to the funeral home or to bury them in. This way I got to keep the outfit that I put my child in at the hospital and take that home so I have it and be able to send them off in these beautiful things means just too much to us."

Tharp's aunt Mickey Frens organized a dress driven July 21 to collect more wedding dresses to help more women.

"This is the coolest thing I can do to help these people out and to say 'You know what, I'm not going to wear my dress again, I don't want to store it. I don't want to move it again.' So let's really do something cool and have something good come out of it," Frens said.

They've already collected close to 20 dresses in just a few days, and know they can get more.

"They need fabric, they need needles and thread, they need laundry detergent, Jo-Ann Fabrics gift cards.  So anything that anyone could give to these women would just be amazing," Tharp said.

You can get the latest information on the dress drive on the Star Legacy of West Michigan Facebook page. 

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