Wedding dress drive nets over 1,000 donations

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by JANET ST. JAMES

WFAA

Posted on March 28, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 28 at 3:41 PM

DALLAS -- From the trunks of cars and down the streets of downtown Dallas, hundreds came to WFAA's Young Street studios with boxes and bags filled with a piece of their hearts.

"My cousin died when he was a baby, so I thought it was a perfect cause," one woman said.

"We're donating this from Teresa Bishop. She passed away in January," said Bishop's brother.

They all carried wedding dresses, which will be transformed into tiny "angel gowns," destined for babies that never make it home from the hospital. NICU Helping Hands of Fort Worth uses volunteer seamstresses to fill orders for hospitals. The need is far greater than it should be.

In response to a News 8 report last Friday that went viral and was passed via Facebook and Twitter worldwide, News 8 organized a wedding dress drive this week. Women who hadn't seen their bridal attire in years climbed into their attics or closets and reached back into time.

MORE: Volunteers make gowns for babies who never make it home

For Mable Dean, that was 60 years ago. She gladly donated her satin gown.

"I had a little grandson. He was born dead, and I'd like to think that he would've had something nice," Mable told us as she opened a heirloom box and set eyes on the gown she hadn't seen since her wedding day.

Many of the donated wedding gowns were delivered with personal notes. Some heartwarming letters filled with love and photographs, others heartbreaking stories of loss.

All came with a story.

Tebrah Kolath walked in and told us about her baby, born seven years ago. He died hours after being born.

"So it's with joy that my husband and I give it," Tebrah said, handing over her dress with bittersweet tears of joy. "It's with a lot of joy and love, and we just hope that these women realize how loved they are."

Several dresses were donated on the birthday of children who passed away in the NICU. Others were left as a token of gratitude for babies who made it home and were still healthy.

Some of the women wanted just one last picture of their prized possession. One bride of three weeks stroked her beautiful white gown adorned with roses and said, "This is it's destiny."

One man dropped off a dress he'd been keeping in his closet as a last memory of his beloved wife. He said his wife would have wanted her dress to find new life this way.

Another woman told us leaving her gown was helping her with closure with the death of her husband and a stillborn baby they'd had long ago.

We helped many women cut a piece a fabric to pass down to their little girls for their own wedding day. All of those mothers said they hoped their daughters would never have to face the death of a baby.

Lisa Grubbs, founder of NICU Helping Hands, was speechless that so many would respond.

"These are going to make incredible, beautiful things for families who have lost their child, " Lisa said, in awe. "Wow."

In three days, an estimated 800 gowns had been donated to the WFAA studios. Nearly 300 had been dropped off at Bliss Bridal Salon in Fort Worth. Dozens more had already been shipped to the organization's offices. Many, many more are on the way.

No matter how bittersweet letting go of a wedding gown was, every woman and man left knowing that the symbolic love of their dress will be shared with mothers and fathers grieving their little angels.

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