Little Angel Gowns Turns Wedding Dresses Into Burial Outfits

When a baby is born stillborn or passes away shortly after birth, many families are left with nothing to bury their child in. Thankfully, organizations like Little Angel Gowns have made it their mission to help those parents with burial outfits. The group turns wedding dresses and other dress wear into angel boy and girl outfits that are donated to hospitals, birthing centers and funeral homes free of charge.

Three or four months ago, a friend posted a link on Facebook about an organization that turns wedding gowns into burial dresses for babies who never make it home from the hospital. Judi Schatz heard the story and was immediately drawn to the cause. “I don’t want any grieving parent to have to look through the lost and found tub at the hospital for clothes for their little one,” she said. “I want them to have a beautiful outfit they can bring their child home in.”

Schatz is the volunteer coordinator for NICU Helping Hands, which is the name of the organization that started this year in Maryland. She has recruited 44 seamstresses across South Jersey and they’ve already turned in 450 gowns that have gone to local hospitals.

The goal of NICU Helping Hands is to provide gowns nationally, and they have already received requests from nine institutions. They’ve also started to offer kits that include a dress, hat and blanket for the baby along with a keepsake card and message for the parents.

Those kits are being used by families around the country and have brought a lot of comfort to parents who’ve suffered pregnancy and infant loss, according to the group’s website. There are an estimated 30,000 stillbirths in the United States each year and many babies that make it to the NICU don’t survive.

Levine Children’s Hospital gave Tom and Deanna Williamson an angel gown when they lost their son at 20 weeks gestation. He was their first child, and they wore him home in his angel outfit. They knew they had to pay it forward.

For families who want to know more about the program, they can speak with their hospital or find local bereavement groups. In addition, they can contact their local chapter of Little Angel Gowns.

The group is always looking for more volunteers and donations. A bride can even sign up to have her own dress or a dress worn by a family member or friend converted into an angel gown. The group will even send it to the bride’s home if requested, so that she can personally thank the seamstress who took such a personal interest in her loss. The gowns can be bought at a discount from thrift stores and garage sales, and they can also be found online.