Jenn Mason often felt like a single parent and often feared for her husband Michael Mason’s life when he went overseas.
“As a wife and mother with a military husband there were tough and scary times,” said Jenn Mason, store manager at MB Bride & Special Occasion wedding boutique in Greensburg on Wednesday. “There were challenges from caring for our children when my husband was deployed to dealing with money struggles.”
As a way to help others through such hardships she and her husband, Michael a sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard, founded Hug-A-Hero, a non-profit organization to support local military members and their families.
One way to do that is the annual wedding gown giveaway at MB Bride held yesterday. Those who qualify – a bride who is in the military or her fiancé — are given a wedding gown for free. More than a hundred were available and worth $500-$3,000 in sizes 4 -22.
“Hug-A-Hero was born on a realization that our country needs to do more to support our troops and their families,” Jenn Mason said.
Bringing bridal and military together in a marriage made in heaven, said Jenn Mason as she watched Emma Hepler choose her wedding gown. Hepler, 24, from Connellsville is marrying Jesse Hartman of Connellsville on Oct. 15, 2022 in Donegal. She is with the military police of the U.S. Army National Guard.
The area where the racks of gowns were displayed was complemented with red, white and blue balloons and decorations. She and three of her six bridesmaids were there to offer advice about the dresses.
“This is awesome what MB Bride is doing for us,” said Hepler as she stood in one of the 10 gowns she considered. “I have never bought a wedding dress before, but this experience was wonderful. They have such a large selection.”
Hepler enlisted after graduation from Penn State Fayette with a criminal justice degree. She said it is important to do a job that makes a difference. She said she isn’t sure what the future holds in terms of where her service to her country might take her but she is ready to answer the call. She said she has always been intrigued by the military.
Hepler said there are so many expenses to a wedding this is one I won’t have to worry about it. She didn’t just get any dress, she got “a beautiful dress.”
Money raised for the Hug-A-Hero organization stays locally, Jenn Mason said. Something as small as helping to pay a bill to as large as a wedding dress it all helps those who have committed to serve his or her country is the reason she and her husband started it. MB Bride owners Reed and Maja Pederson have totally supported the mission to donate the dresses.
Having someone such as Hepler with such a commitment to her country is admirable, said Jenn Mason, who grew up in a military family. The dress giveaway was not held last year because of the pandemic.
“It is so important to support our military, Jenn Mason said. “It always gives me goose bumps when someone thanks me for my service. I am not in the military but spouses and family members also sacrifice when one of their own is serving.
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .