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Donation of formal gowns leads to fundraiser for Haitian orphans

JOLIET – Taja Jones, volunteer at Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Joliet, called church member Mike Tackebury with exciting news. She had some wedding dresses to donate to his annual benefit garage sale.

But when Tackebury reached the basement of Martellen’s Dress & Bridal Boutique in Lemont, where Jones works, he said, “Taja, this is more than 10 boxes,” and called one of his volunteers, Deb Filotto of Joliet, to help.

“I ended up with four van loads, top to bottom, of these beautiful dresses,” Filotto said. “Some of them were never touched, never taken out of the bag. They were pristine and not all of them were wedding dresses.”

Filotto and Tackebury agreed the dresses deserved their own sale. All proceeds from the “Boutique Wedding and Special Occasion Gown Sale” Friday and Saturday will be donated to the “Faith in Action” orphanage in Haiti, through Don Shire ministries (

Proceeds from the June 12, 13 and 14 benefit garage sale also will be donated to the orphanage.

Assisting in preparing the dresses is Allison Selk of Minooka. As a member of Minooka Bible Church, Selk has gone on several mission trips to Haiti. She met Tackebury of Joliet last year when she donated items to his sale, was instantly impressed and started helping out with events.

Tackebury anticipates making $20,000 from the dress sale, in addition to $25,000 from the garage sale.

“I would have just thrown them on a table and charged a buck a piece,” Tackebury said.

Items for sale will include 150 wedding dresses, 225 mother-of-the-bride formal wear, flower girl and christening gowns. Brand names include Da Vinci, Maggie Sottero and St. Patrick, Filotto said.

It’s possible that some dresses with $250 price tags may sell for as low as $25 and the four most expensive dresses – easily retailed at $2,000, Jones said – will be priced at $250. Prom gowns will range between $30 and $75, Filotto said.

Shortly after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Tackebury, the father of seven children, six of whom he adopted, thought of all the displaced children and wanted to help. So he cleaned house, hosted a garage sale and raised $1,300, which he sent to Haiti through Don Shire.

The next year, Tackebury set a goal of $10,000. That year, Tackebury saw a little better than half of his goal but, in year three, when the sale moved to the grounds of Judson Memorial Baptist Church, he raised $11,000. Last year, Tackebury’s garage sale earned $16,000.

Selk said the current orphanage is a three-bedroom house. Its residents are the Rev. Cenor (along with his wife and child) and 23 orphans ranging in age from 4 to 13.

“They put all their faith in the Lord,” Selk said. “They are very religious, happy, welcoming, beautiful people who take so much pride in themselves. Even though they live in ratty tents, their skirts are clean and their shirts are clean. Their church services are two and half hours long and they sing their hearts out. Their spirits are wonderful.”

What: Boutique Wedding and Special Occasion Gown Sale
When: 6 to 9 p.m. Friday and 9 to 3 p.m. Saturday
Where: Judson Memorial Baptist Church, 2800 Black Road, Joliet
What’s available:
• Weddings dresses, sizes 2 to 16, $100 to $250;
• Formals/prom/Mother of the Bride, sizes 4 to 16, $30 to $75.
• Flower girl dresses, christening dresses, veils and more.
Etc: For safety reasons, only adults may attend. No children, no strollers.
On the Web:
Call: 815-600-1676

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