Only in Indiana: Little Angel Gowns


It's a symbol of love, whether it's worn by a beautiful bride at the beginning of her married life or a beautiful baby at the end of theirs.

A small group of Hoosiers have taken it upon themselves to sew Little Angel Gowns.

There is always a little uncertainty when a new box arrives at Little Angel Gowns.

"You never know what you will get in a box," Marie Murphy says.

"One day we got a lizard," she shares as she unpacks a small box of linens someone donated.

Teresa Unseld's delivery, which is coming in from outside, is more personal. 

"I don't know...I saw multiple dresses," one volunteer remarks. 

"My mom's, mine and my sisters," Teresa Unseld responds. 

"Fantastic.  That is wonderful.  Thank you so much," the volunteer swoons. 

"You are welcome," Unseld says.

See all Only in Indiana stories here.

"The gowns come in, we bag them, take pictures, bag them and give them a  number and bring them in here and one of our ladies actually knows where every single gown is in this room," Marie Murphy says as she walks into a large room full of bags of wedding dresses.

"There is a wedding dress in every bag in this room," she clarifies.

And why not? After all, a wedding dress symbolizes a new beginning, along with commitment, love and eternity.  So can't a donated wedding dress display those same qualities at the end of life's journey as well?

Even when you have the number you have in this room, is this enoug?  "I don't think so.  There are over 30,000 neonatal deaths a year," Murphy answers.

And many hospitals don't have anything to bury them in.  A retired ICU nurse, Marie Murphy thought, prayed and dreamt about what she should do about that and then one day when she actually tripped over her wedding dress box she understood.

"Okay, I get the hint.  It is time for me to do this," she shares.

So that was the thread that started "Little Angel Gowns."

"In here is where we store....this is our supply room.  What we call our angel room," Murphy says as she walks into yet another room. 

75 seamstresses around central Indiana take those donated wedding dresses and sew them into children's burial gowns.

"This is one of the dresses I made," Beverly Norris proudly states. "I took the lace from the dress and I hand it on here," Norris continues.

See all Only in Indiana stories here.

"We will even take all these buttons off and then make tuxedos for the boys," volunteer Melissa Goad says as she points to a tiny tot tuxedo.

Some of these volunteers, I am told, are angels, the rest are saints.

"I think about if I was in that situation what I would want my baby to look like.  I just want it to be as pretty and beautiful as it can possible be," Norris explains, without taking her eyes off of her work.

In some cases like the instance last December where the body of a baby girl was found abandoned at Eagle Creek, these women in pink made sure she was not buried in the same sweatshirt she was found in. It's a selfless act of love that started with a wedding dress.

"We want to make sure that nobody has just a hospital blanket or a toy store outfit to bury their baby in.  We want to make sure they get something like this.  This is much nicer and more beautiful to put their baby in," Marie Murphy states.

We all know the biblical analogy of how it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man, but what about those who are literally doing God's work? That thread is eternal.

A Wings of Angels Charity Ride with Southside Harley Davidson takes place Saturday July, 25th.  The Little Angel Gowns Gala is September 25th.

See all Only in Indiana stories here.