EUFAULA, Okla. -- Old wedding dresses no longer have to stay in storage thanks to a traveling nurse with ties to Green Country.
AnnMarie French lives in Pennsylvania, but goes to hospitals all across the country as a labor and delivery nurse.
"I travel around the country delivering babies for different hospitals that need a fill-in nurse," said French, whose job has taken her to Maine, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Oklahoma.
During her lengthy career as a nurse, she has had the tough task of helping parents who lost a baby. She heard about others making "angel gowns" for these children, so she decided to give back and start her own sewing project.
"[Angel gowns are] a tiny little gown that I make from wedding gowns people have donated to me," French said. "I give them to the local hospitals wherever I'm at for the babies that don't make it home."
"I started making them when we were in Maine last year," she added, "and I've loved it ever since."
She said parents can lay their children to rest in the tiny tuxedos and delicate dresses she makes. She said there's a reason why she makes them out of people's wedding gowns.
"These gowns are infused with love," French said, "so what better way to wrap our babies who only get one outfit … from a gown that's infused with love."
Everywhere she goes, she takes her sewing machine with her and asks for donations of wedding dresses. This week she's visiting her mother in Eufaula, and is once again trying to collect gowns.
Anyone who would like to donate a wedding dress to her project can drop if off this week at either Professional Hair Design, located at 1 Cherokee Avenue in McAlester, or the Second Chance Boutique, located at 118 W. Foley Street in Eufaula.
Susan Dixon, the owner of Second Chance Boutique, said she jumped at the chance to donate wedding dresses to this effort.
"I have had a child die," Dixon said, "so I personally have a connection of what a great giving thing [this is] to do for the parents."
French said she can make 10 to 15 angel gowns from one wedding dress. She plans to donate all the ones she makes during her trip to Green Country to several hospitals in the area, though she said it's her hope no parent will ever need to use them.
"I just love being able to help," French said. "It's just in my nature to be a nurse and to help and be a mom, so I just love it."
To learn more about this project, visit the Ann's Angel Gown Facebook page here.