GARDEN CITY, Mich. (WJBK) - According to the CDC, nearly 23,000 infants die in the Unted States each year. The loss of a baby is a heartbreaking reality for many, and a Garden City woman has found a way to honor these little children and offer some comfort for their families.
"We take wedding dressing that are donated from brides after they've been married and we transform them into burial gowns, or what we call angel gowns, for the babies that don't survive," Dawn Lafferty explains. She's the president at Angels Above Baby Gowns.
She's put together a dedicated team of men and women that's assembled roughly 7,000 gowns in the past year and a half.
"That's their life now. They leave on Thursdays, they have a tote bag that I've made for them that says 'Angels Above Baby Gowns,' and they take their supplies home and when they come back the following Thursday, it's got a whole bunch of gowns made up, blankets and ornaments," she says.
Dawn came up with the idea after hearing about a group making burial gowns for babies in Washington state. The longtime seamstress searched for a group locally but was unable to find one, so she took matters into her own hands.
"I posted on Facebook - this was like at 11 o' clock at night - 'I'm thinking of starting a nonprofit group where we take wedding dresses and we make burial gowns,' and with in five minutes three or four of my friends were like, 'I'm in.'" Two days later they set up shop in Dawn's basement.
"I just hate the thought that these ladies are losing their babies and they haven't even planned for the clothes that they're going to wear. They should be shopping for cribs, not funeral arrangements," Dawn says.
To date, Angels Above has donated burial gowns and wraps to nearly 40 hospitals. Dawn rarely meets the families who need her dresses, but there was an occasion where she was able to make a gown for a baby out of the baby's own mother's wedding gown.
"We had met a woman when we went to make our delivery at U of M. She had a little girl, and they decided there wasn't anything else that they could do. So she went home on hospice. Her husband, he overnight shipped us her wedding dress and we made the baby girl an angel gown," Dawn says.
If you would like to donate a dress to Angels Above, they have dropoff locations all over the metro Detroit area. You can see a full list on the group's Facebook page.
Editor's Note: The Facebook page is a closed group, meaning you must send a request to join to see their information.