“I saw something about the Little Angel Gowns organization on Facebook,” said Debbie Shanks, a Gainesville resident since May 2015. “I didn’t really see anything like it in Florida, so I called the founder, asked if we could create a Florida chapter and she thought it was a great idea.”
The Little Angel Gowns organization, a nonprofit, was formed in April 2014 by Marie Murphy, a retired Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) nurse. Throughout her 16 years in the NICU, Murphy noticed a sad reality – a need for a fitting garment for infants that leave their families unexpectedly, so she created the Little Angel Gowns organization to provide burial clothes for infants. These gowns are donated to hospital bereavement groups, funeral homes, and families. The gowns are provided at no expense to the family.
“My problem was that I wasn’t getting enough gowns, so I was running out of material very quickly,” said Shanks who started sewing for Little Angel Gowns Florida in February 2016. “While attending a local Kiwanis meeting, someone suggested that I contact the Haven Hospice Attic.”
Shanks reached out to Haven Hospice Gainesville Attic Resale Store Manager Steve Tinney about the need for gowns. “Steve was wonderful and expressed Haven’s willingness to do whatever it could to donate gowns on an ongoing basis,” Shanks said. “The Attic donated four gowns the day I spoke with Steve. For them to donate to the Little Angel Gowns Florida was touching for me.”
Tinney enlisted the help of some Haven Hospice Attic Resale Store volunteers to help find gowns to donate in the future. “In the past, if we couldn’t sell wedding gowns, we would send them to other Haven Hospice Attic Resale Stores,” said Haven Hospice Gainesville Attic Resale Store Volunteer Jeannine Hogue who is also a member of the Haven Hospice Alliance. “It can be difficult to sell wedding gowns in the Attic, because often times brides prefer to wear a new wedding dress when they get married.”
The Haven Hospice Alliance is a volunteer group whose purpose is two-fold. The Alliance assists in raising funds for unreimbursed care and services for Haven Hospice patients and families while raising awareness in the 18-county service area about these programs.
For more information on Little Angel Gowns Florida, please visit http://littleangelgownsfl.weebly.com/our-story.html. If you are interested in donating a wedding dress to the Haven Hospice Attic Resale Store, just stop by our Gainesville store located at 300 N.W. 8th Avenue or call 352.378.7484.