Oklahoma mom mourning the loss of infant son establishes prom-dress charity in his name

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News

A Checotah, Oklahoma, woman mourning the loss of her infant son has founded a charity that supplies prom dresses for girls in need.

Sherrill Garrett's 7-month-old son Jacob died unexpectedly last year. A friend tried to express empathy for Garrett's pain with a simple comment:

"In 15 years," said the friend, "you’ll be wondering who Jake would have taken to prom."

As Garrett grieved, that comment inspired her to launch "Dresses for Jake's Dates," a charity that accepts donated prom dresses and then supplies them to teen girls from low-income families.

"Every girl deserves to feel like a princess for one night," she said. "And every parents deserves to take a breath and not worry about the cost of things every once in a while. You’re paying hundreds of dollars for a dress that’s worn once and then sits in a closet forever. It can get costly and expensive."

A local shop immediately donated 67 dresses. Garrett now stores 170 dresses in a room in her home.

"It's just saved me in a way," Garrett told the Muskogee Phoenix. "It's allowed me to channel the things I’m going through positively, to pay it forward to people who need help."

To further give back, with every 100 new fans to "like" the Dresses for Jake's Dates Facebook page, Garrett is performing a good deed as suggested by those fans.

When the 500th fan, a 14-year-old girl, "liked" the page, she suggested that Garrett do something "to help new mommies."

"I thought to myself, you know, I just lost my son, being around new moms might be so hard for me," she said. "But sometimes we need to step out of our comfort zone. The whole premise is to keep paying things forward."

On February 17, Garrett will be holding a baby shower at a local bakery cafe for new moms. She'll be handing out gift bags filled with diapers, wipes, baby shampoos and "anything a new mom might need or that might put a smile on her face."

"This whole thing, I’m just a grieving mother who wanted to do something nice," she told the Muskogee Phoenix. "I know it’s hard for people to know how to comfort someone who is going through a loss, but they have. People have reached out to this and it has helped me and given me the strength to try and help others."

She added, "Paying it forward was always the goal, and that is exactly what’s happening."