Wanted: Wedding Gowns
One woman's activism leads to the collection of thirty formal dresses for a very unique charity.
Last week, I discovered an organization through my sister, called ‘Heavenly Butterflies’. It is operated by two women, Jackie and Norma, who transform old gowns into beautiful bereavement gowns and vests for babies who have left our world far too soon. I contacted a similar organization several years ago, but they weren’t accepting wedding dresses at the time. When I read about Heavenly Butterflies, I sent Jackie a message to see if she would accept my gown, that was still slightly dirty from the beach that I was married on a decade ago. She said they were accepting gowns and that it wouldn’t be a problem if it was dirty.
I was so excited to finally have a worthy organization to send my gown to! After a brief phone conversation, I learned that Jackie lives in the same town as my sister, which would make the transfer of dresses simple since she was coming home for Thanksgiving. Jackie said they were in desperate need of wedding dresses, but will gladly accept bridesmaid, communion, prom or flower girl dresses. I asked if it would be okay to share her business card on social media to try to gather more dresses to send along with mine. She happily obliged.
My goal was to find about 5 other wedding dresses to send to Jackie. I posted to a few groups in my area geared towards Wake Forest, Franklin County and North Raleigh. I made the post on a Tuesday and the response was amazing. I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people and offered to pick up dresses from homes in my area on Friday morning (three days after the post). I also held a public meet-up at a local church parking lot on Saturday afternoon. A few ladies dropped off their gowns at my house and a few who lived a bit farther away dropped off at my husband’s job, which served as a halfway point.
In preparation for Friday, I mapped out the quickest route. The big day arrived, and I was thrilled to take my youngest kiddos on a “road trip” around town to collect wedding dresses! There were some last-minute changes, but everything worked out. Plus, my 2.5-year-old made it the whole trip (8 stops) without an accident! Nearly everyone who agreed to meet Saturday afternoon at the church showed up as planned. I realized that some did not expect to see someone so young organizing this donation. I’ll take that as a compliment, especially since I am 35 and feel far from young!
As of Tuesday, November 23, 2021, I have collected 21 wedding gowns, 7 bridesmaids dresses and 2 flower girl dresses. When unloading the bulk of the donations on Friday afternoon, I had to pause as the tears welled up in my eyes. I was overwhelmed with emotions as I looked at those beautiful gowns that were worn on one of the most magical days of a woman’s life and thought of how they would be transformed into beautiful outfits for children to wear on the most heartbreaking day in another family’s life. Women have shared with me their stories of being on the receiving end of this donation, being a labor and delivery nurse caring for the family experiencing this heartache and being a friend of someone who has experienced infant loss. I want to thank each and every one of you who has contributed to this cause. To Leah, Leslie, Angela, Barrett, Tabitha, Audrey, Meredith, Rebecca, Patrick’s wife, Barbara, Sharon, Jessica, Amber N, Koren, DeAnna, Sandy, Amber G, and Taryn, I can’t thank you enough for your donations! To Jackie and Norma, thank you for the work you do and for creating Heavenly Butterflies.
If you would like to send your dress to Heavenly Butterflies, please contact Jackie at (252) 876- 3035 or Norma at (252) 525- 0647.