Bridal donation drive gives gowns, grave sites new life

Feb. 19, 2013 @ 05:00 AM

One local group hopes to breathe new life into women's wedding dresses — all for the hope of restoring abandoned cemeteries.

The Heritage Foundation Inc., a local organization that restores cemeteries, is soliciting new or gently used bridal gowns and accessories for its first Second-Chance Bridal Extravaganza Donation Drive. Dresses can be dropped off until March 31, said Heritage Executive Director Lisa Martin Sanders.

"After the dresses are collected, we will select a venue to sell the dresses for a donation or discount," Sanders said.

Wedding dresses can be extremely expensive — especially to only be worn once, she said. This gives women a chance to find their special dress at a discount and allows a dress the second chance at being loved, Sanders said.

"No one wears the same dress again, even if they are remarried," she said. "This way, women can clear out their closets and make a donation to a good cause. It's a win-win."

The Heritage Foundation is collecting donations to finish restoring the Black Heritage Community Cemetery near Buffalo Presbyterian Church, a project the Heritage Foundation began in 2011. After Sanders began the search to find the grave site of W.B. Wicker, she discovered he was buried in an unmarked cemetery along with her grandfather. Several graves were sunken in after years of neglect — with brush covering many of the headstones, Sanders said.

"It hurt my heart to see these graves thrown away like that," She said. "I began to call around and ask who owned the property and find out why it is in this kind of shape."

Sanders began the process of restoring the graves along with Beatrice Adams, director of administration for the Heritage Foundation. The two formed the Heritage Foundation to restore the cemeteries and locate others in need of revitalization.

"I had no idea there was a cemetery out there," Adams said. "I started talking to my mother and the more I described it, she said, 'It sounds like where your grandfather is buried at.'"

Adams was able to locate her grandfather's grave and those of other family members buried in the unmarked cemetery. The donations from the bridal extravaganza will ideally give the Heritage Foundation the funds to finish laying gravel for people to visit the cemetery, she said.

"We have really been thinking and thinking about how to raise money to finish the cemetery," Adams said. "We really want this to be a park when we are done where people can come out and have an educational experience."

Along with dresses, Adams said the group is hoping someone will donate a location where the extravaganza can take place at little to no charge to the group.

"The bridal event is an avenue to help us reach our goal and help brides to be," Adams said. "It's a big thing for us and the foundation to continue restoring cemeteries."

To find a drop-off location for dresses, interested residents can call (919) 721-8128 or (919) 888-2116.

WANT TO HELP?

What: The Second-Chance Bridal Extravaganza Donation Drive, donate new or gently used wedding gowns and accessories for local brides. Funds will support The Heritage Foundation.

When: Gowns collected now through March 31

How: call (919) 721-8128 or (919) 888-2116