Gowns for Angels

Angel Gowns_02974_March 2015By John Fulton

Amid the devastating impact of the death of a newborn infant, or perhaps a stillborn, is a question grieving parents could do without. How to dress the tiny form for burial?

Krystle Chabitch and her mother, Dawn Crippen, have a solution. The two women make tiny gowns and suits for babies that don’t make it out into the world. Chabitch previously worked in a hospital environment and knows the need firsthand for these parents. She saw the grieving parents and families and felt their anguish.

The two are using donated gowns and make size-appropriate gowns and tuxes for boys and girls to be buried in. It’s a useful alternative for parents who otherwise are forced to look for burial clothing at stores that sell doll clothing or stores that provide a place to dress a do-it-yourself stuffed animal.

Chabitch heard of the idea first, but her mother said “We could totally do something like that.” Chabitch chimed in saying, “We help families through difficult times dealing with death. We wanted to ease the pain by offering them an alternative to doll clothing.”

Chabitch and Crippen use donated gowns from weddings, communion ceremonies and christenings to make the burial gowns. Each gown is repurposed into gowns with embellishments for girls and tuxedos for boys. The mother receives a matching heart made from the same material and embellishments as a keepsake. They are currently getting the inventory built up so they can begin providing the gowns in April to local hospitals and funeral homes.

They’re a part of Angel Gowns, a national organization based in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is celebrating a year of providing the service and is now a 501c3, able to accept tax-deductible contributions. The group has provided about 800 angel gowns this past year. Locally one of the hospitals would need about 5 gowns per month. They hope to provide gowns for both local hospitals in the near future.

Chabitch and Crippen believe they can supply the local need. The work is being accomplished entirely through donations and they could use donations of gowns in white, cream or light pastel. They also need a variety of swing supplies like material, buttons ribbon and lace.

Angel Gowns could use some critical donations, including dress forms, three wheeled chairs, office desk, eight foot tables, scissors, buttons, a variety of white, cream, pink and blue thread, and especially gift cards for Jo Ann Fabrics.

They have established two drop-off locations in the area: The Cutting Edge Salon in Vicksburg and Teddy Bear and Dollies at 6305 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo.

Chabitich and Grippen can be reached at 269-475-8016. Their Little Angel Gowns SW MI chapter has a Facebook page and a Pinterest page.

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