About four years ago, Anne McCoy felt the pain and sorrow of losing a great grandbaby. She was traveling with her fiance, Cliff, and needed a way to deal with the grief she was feeling over her family’s loss. She began crocheting, and it turned into a comforting way to pass the time.
She had heard about Angel Groups that made Angel Gowns for babies who were “born with their angel wings.” In her search, she stumbled upon vibrant communities who made gowns and gifts for parents who lost their newborns. As she began learning about these organizations, she became friends with many of the founders. Some sent her patterns for dresses and bonnets and shared information about the process of making Angel Gowns.
Anne, along with her friends Peggy, Sheryl, Sue, Mary, and Helen, who were in other Angel Groups, got into a routine of helping one another by sending each other materials, finishing dresses and bonnets for each other, and lending emotional support.
“I had collected and accumulated a lot of stuff, and everything started stacking up,” Anne says. “It kind of ran like that [for a while], with me solo, with my support from these ladies. And then one morning, I woke up and prayed, ‘Lord, I can’t do this by myself. This is your ministry, and if this is what I’m supposed to do, make it possible. You need to send me some people.’”
Shortly after, April Welch Aucoin came to her, wanting to help. April put an ad in the local newspaper, asking for wedding gowns, and the gowns started piling in. Then, Jennifer Starns reached out after seeing the dresses and crocheting on Facebook. She, too, began working with Anne, buying fabric and embellishments and working with the patterns.
The community in Central has jumped on board with endless amounts of energy and open hearts. Born with Angel Wings, as the organization is now called, meets once every six weeks at Blackwater United Methodist Church. While some ladies deconstruct donated weddings gowns and cut out patterns, others crochet bonnets, make diapers, and string beads into matching mom and child bracelets. Some women get creative and make tiny vests and bowties to add to the gowns for the boys.
Once the items have been made, they are arranged in boxes to be sent to hospitals. Each Angel Bereavement Box contains a crochet blanket; gown; hats; diapers; journal; booties; tissues; stuffed animal; and a book, which includes information on the stages of grief, funeral arrangements, and poems. Then, the boxes are tied together with a pink or blue bow and labeled with boy or girl and the age of the baby the clothes will fit.
Anne has found hospitals in the area who don’t already have an Angel Group serving them, and she delivers the boxes to them to pass out to parents when they are needed.
“I feel that every person should be shown the dignity to be buried right,” Anne says. “Many of these parents aren’t prepared when their baby passes away. Some have financial difficulties. To help these families at this time of their life is such a feeling of accomplishment, and you know you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing.”■