Tragedy viewed through a charitable heart’s lens can produce broader and longer lasting charitable benefits. 

Such is the case for Chickasaw citizen Angela Hudson, founder of Angel Gowns Foundation, a volunteer effort providing burial gowns or suits to grieving families suffering the loss of newborn children.   

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“I have a cousin who lost her 6-month-old baby when he died with a genetic heart disease, and she wanted a white tuxedo to bury him in,” Hudson said.   

Hudson said the young mother did not have the money to pay for the suit. In the end, an uncle footed the bill, but her cousin’s plight continued to tug at Hudson’s heartstrings.   

“I thought, ‘Grieving parents should not have to worry about what to bury a baby in.’ 

“I started a program to use wedding gowns and prom dresses we tear apart and repurpose. We make burial gowns and little tuxedos and little pantsuits for girls and boys. We make little pockets for the tiniest babies as their skin is so fragile,” she said.  

“I want parents to know their babies matter. They will never be forgotten.”  

Hudson works with funeral homes and cemeteries to promote the effort and fill the need.   

Another effort Hudson helps coordinate is under the auspices of the Movers & Shakers Oklahoma Home and Education Group (OHCE) in conjunction with the Pottawatomie County Cooperative Extension Office.   

“We sew scent cloths,” she said. “They don’t have to match or be a certain size or any kind of regular shape.”  

Scent cloths are double-sided flannel squares sewn together and put under a baby’s body who is in an incubator.   

This effort was also the result of an episode tinged in potential tragedy that, happily, had a better outcome. Hudson’s nephew, born prematurely, is now a 1-year-old and doing well. Back then, he was thought to be an unfortunate recipient of his family’s history of heart disease, subject to open heart surgery that put him in a neonatal infant care unit.    

“Parents are allowed to be there 24/7 but are often not able to,” Hudson said. “They take this cloth home with them and if they have other children or pets, it has the baby’s scent for them to get accustomed to.”   

Parents get another cloth to put on the skin of the mother’s chest on one side and the father’s chest on the other. The cloth is then placed with the baby in the incubator to allow the bonding process to continue even when mom and dad are not there.   

Hudson says there is an equal and opposite accompanying benefit for both parents and child.  

“When their mom and dad are there, the baby recognizes them,” she said.  

Each family gets two scent cloths, one for the baby, one for the baby’s parents. To date, Movers & Shakers OHCE group has sewn 216 scent cloths distributed to 108 families.   

Other Chickasaw citizens involved in this effort are Hudson’s sister, Amy Grijalva, and Gracelyn, Nicholas and James Grijalva, Hudson’s niece and nephews, as well as Shirley Bailey, Hudson’s mother. Nontribal members are Leslye Owen, Stana Friend and Pam Dennis.   

“We do a lot of other things to help those less fortunate,” Hudson said. “That’s how I was raised. You give everything you can to those that can’t and don’t have.”  

Those wanting to get involved can contact Angela Hudson of Movers & Shakers OHCE at (405) 826-3269 or email [email protected]

For more information about OHCE or to find a group near you, contact your county Cooperative Extension Office. Information about Angel Gowns Foundation of Oklahoma program can be found on Facebook.        

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