A Chicago woman is desperately hoping to get her mother’s wedding dress back after it was accidentally donated to a thrift store.
It holds a very special place in her heart, and she’s hoping the public can help her find it.
Meghanne Downes lost her mother to Alzheimer’s disease in October. She was diagnosed in 2015. As an only child, Downes, who is now a mother to her own two young children, helped her father with caretaking, in addition to a full-time job.
In the past few weeks, her father started packing up some of her mother’s clothing to donate. Unfortunately, her wedding dress was mistakenly mixed in.
“He feels crushed and awful,” said Downes. “A total accident.”
“Shortly after I realized the dress was gone, it had been donated, I went through several waves of emotions. I thought, ‘oh there’s no hope. I’m never going to find it again,'” said Downes.
She posted about the ordeal on social media and dozens of women in her Chicago mom’s group have provided support and encouragement, many even offering to help search.
“It really helped me get through it and start looking at this in a positive way and help me overcome the sadness to have that support,” said Downes.
Her parents were married in 1980 in downtown Chicago after a 12-year engagement. A lifelong Chicagoan, her mother bought the dress at Marshall Field’s.
“It just represents a lot of intersections for us, both the love my parents have but as a little girl, going to Marshall Field’s with my mom all the time,” said Downes.
Downes says her mother was a seamstress and even made some last minute alterations to the dress on her wedding day.
“Last thing before she went to the church, she put the dress on. She felt all these pins on the side. They had forgotten to sew up her dress. She broke out her needle and thread, and sewed up the side of her dress. Probably any bride’s worst nightmare, but there’s a lot of memories and stories with it,” she said.
The dress is white with lace detailing and long sleeves. Downes’ father mistakenly donated it to the Salvation Army in Glenview.
In a statement, Salvation Army said in part that donated goods “are processed and sold at any one of multiple Thrift Stores,” and “due to the unpredictable availability of donated items, we cannot predict where the donations will be processed, displayed or sold.”
Downes is holding out hope the dress will be found, returned or at least provide joy to another bride.
“Maybe it’ll turn up. I hope so,” she said. “It would mean the world to me to get it back.”