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By BRIDGET COOK

THE Casey community has opened up its hearts and wardrobes to help bring a little bit of light to families experiencing the inconceivable pain of losing a baby.
Women from Lynbrook and Lyndhurst are putting their wedding dresses and other gowns, that would otherwise go to waste, to good use by donating them to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Helping Hands Angel Gown Program Australia.
Volunteer seamstresses around the country will then turn the dresses into tiny, hand crafted gowns and outfits for babies who are stillborn, do not survived an illness, or who are born prematurely and don’t make it home from hospital.
The angel gowns are gifted to hospitals around Australia to give to families who have suffered from such a loss.
The organisation was started in Australia this year by Fiona Kirk after she heard about NICU Helping Hands in the United States.
Lynbrook woman Vicki Agius started collecting dresses for the organisation just this week after coming across it on Facebook.
“I had a couple of gowns at home and when I heard about this, I knew it was exactly what I wanted to do with them,” she said.
“I was speaking to another local lady about it who suggested I let everyone know on the Lynbrook social media page.
“I did that just this week and I’ve already collected 41 gowns from women across the community.
“We’ve had wedding dress, communion dresses, flower girl dress, a little vest from a page boy, to name a few.”
Ms Agius said the response was so good because the cause struck a chord with many people.
“I had a close involvement with someone who lost a baby during pregnancy last year,” she said.
“So this really hit home for me and I’m sure it does for a lot of people.
“So many women have dresses sitting in their cupboards for years, not knowing what to do with them.
“When they read about this organisation, it’s like they know that’s the purpose they have held onto the dress and it’s exactly what they would like to see it used for.
“The reaction here has been amazing and I thank all those who have donated so far.”
Ms Agius said the gowns are turned into beautiful little outfits for babies who usually don’t fit into anything else.
“They end up being the most divine little outfits,” she said.
“It’s such a devastating time, so this just helps ease the burden a little bit.
“Families can choose from the most perfectly boxed outfits, whether it be for a baptism before the child passes or for their funeral.”
Those who have a gown they would like to donate to Ms Agius is asked to email her at vicki.agius@bigpond.com.
To learn more about Angel Gowns, or become a seamstress visit www.angelgownsaustralia.com.

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