Last May, Sherrill and Joe Garrett of Checotah, Okla experienced one of the worst tragedies a parent can go through: they lost their 7-month-old son Jacob to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death Syndrome. Feeling as though "our whole world just collapsed and we didn't really know what to do," Sherrill reached out for ways to deal with her overwhelming grief. Suggestions from loved ones led her to the idea of volunteer work -- but it was one particular conversation with a friend that resulted in a truly unique charity made in Jake's memory.
This is how Dresses for Jake’s Dates came to be. It's a Facebook page that helps loan fancy prom dresses to young women who can't afford them, and so far, supporters have sent them more than 200 dresses. As of this writing, the page has been liked over 17,000 times.
Sherill says the idea for Dresses for Jake’s Dates came to her after talking about prom plans for her friend's daughter:
[A friend] said, ‘You know, I want to tell you that as I sit here and listen to my daughter talk about who she’s going to date and who she’s going to go to the prom with, and I couldn’t help but think that 15 years from now you’re going to wonder who Jake would have taken to the prom,’ and I thought, ’15 years from now? I just need to get through the day.'
Sherill and her friend had previously talked about how expensive it can be for girls to go to the prom, and that's what gave Sherill the idea of creating the charity and naming it in honor of her son.
Dresses for Jake's Dates helps local girls who don't have the financial means to afford prom outfits to borrow fancy dresses, shoes, and jewelry for their big night. The response on the Facebook page has been overwhelmingly positive, with community members even volunteering to do girls' hair and buy them flowers.
Sherill has ideas for how to expand this charity into showers for pregnant mothers, and plans to organize a 5K to raise cash for local prom activities. She says she and her husband feel good that their son's memory is being carried on in a positive way:
If we can provide financial relief for one family and make one little girl feel like a princess for a night, then we’ve accomplished what we set out to do … I just – we could crawl into a hole and feel sorry for ourselves because we lost our son, we really could. But we don’t feel like that’s what God would have us do.
This is another amazing use of Facebook, and I'm glad to see this story get more attention -- the page was at less than 1,000 likes on Tuesday night, and it's already up over 17,000. I'm so sorry for the Garrett's loss of little Jacob, but glad they've found something that helps them heal, and helps others in the process.
Have you heard of Dresses for Jake’s Dates before?
Image via Facebook