LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - A wedding dress symbolizes one of the happiest days in a bride's life, a cherished possession that oftentimes ends up being stored away in a closet for years. Now, these dresses are serving a second purpose, in a family's toughest time.
There is an assembly line inside Church of the King in Lake Charles: cutting, ironing, and sewing "Angel Gowns," a special gown for a baby to be buried in - created from donated wedding dresses.
Anna Theriot founded the group, Angel Gowns of SWLA, one year ago when she was looking for a way to repurpose her own wedding dress.
"This takes that beautiful gown that woman had and creates something beautiful for this baby to be buried in, to just bring a moment of joy or happiness or closure to this mom or dad when they have to bury their baby," said Theriot.
The Angel Gowns are donated to Lake Charles Memorial Hospital for Women, where they are given to families who suffer a miscarriage, stillbirth, or death of a baby shortly after delivery.
"It's something that there's a great need for, because you can't find a dress for a baby who is 28 weeks gestation," said Theriot. "There's just nothing there to bury them in."
What started as Theriot and a family member one year ago has now grown into dozens of women working together to create these treasures.
Some of these women, like volunteer Janel Hummel, have dealt with the pain of losing a baby.
"I don't have a gown, I don't have pictures," she said. "This is my way of trying to help a mom grieve or dad grieve, because they grieve too, so I just try to make something precious for them to make some memories with."
Volunteer, Jessica Fontenot, was able to see her own dress transformed.