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Thrift Shop says 'I do' to wedding dress project

Thrift Shop says 'I do' to wedding dress project

Thrift Shop says 'I do' to wedding dress project

15 April 2020

A bride from Punjab, India, is married in a dress sourced from the Warrnambool Salvos Thrift Shop.

By Jessica Morris

Choosing a wedding dress is a rite of passage, but not every bride has the luxury of affording one, especially if you’re a disadvantaged young woman from northern India.

Warrnambool may be a long way from India, but a forward-thinking resident from the Victorian coastal town is partnering with the local Salvation Army Thrift Shop to source wedding dresses for Indian brides who cannot afford one.

Karamjeet Kaur and her mother Hardeep Kaur receive a parcel of wedding dresses purchased at The Salvation Army Thirft Shop in Warrnambool, Victoria.

“God called me to Punjab, India, in 2015, and a lot of people, including my family, thought I was a little bit crazy. I had never previously been overseas anywhere before in my life,” said Alicia Nicholls, a volunteer for True Love for Humanity Ministries, which assists brides, widows and the disadvantaged in Northern India.

“Towards the end of my first trip, my adopted son – Pastor Moses Karam Singh (who founded True Love for Humanity ministries) – his mother Hardeep Kaur and his sister Karamjeet Kaur all shared a desire to establish a wedding gown-hiring service with me.”

Fondly known as ‘The Wedding Dress Project,’ the God-sized dream would not only provide the region’s predominantly young Christian brides with beautiful dresses, but it would fund a charitable trust. This would meet the basic needs of widows and disadvantaged people living in the Indian village of Khokhar Khurd and nearby settlements.

Upon returning to Warrnambool, Alicia began praying and seeking quality wedding dresses at little to no cost. The problem? As any former bride will tell you, wedding dresses are expensive. Enter the Salvos Thrift Shop.

“I believe God led me to the Salvos Thrift Shop, in all honesty,” said Alicia.

Alicia Nicholls with Gudi, an elderly widow from Northern India who is helped through the True Love for Humanity Ministries.

With no prior affiliation with the Salvos, Alicia’s arrival at the shop was, as she puts it, a ‘divine appointment’ – not only for the brides who have rented out more than 40 wedding dresses sourced from the shop, but for the Warrnambool community itself.

“This partnership is a whole community thing if you think about it,” says shop manager Leanne Atkinson. “The community donates the wedding dresses to us, hoping they will go to a good home. When Alicia purchases them [at a discounted rate], the funds go to our community and the dresses themselves go to the community in India. It’s like a big circle of care!”

Now, whenever a quality wedding dress comes into the shop, Leanne puts it aside for Alicia. To date they have sourced more than two-thirds of the shop’s dress selection, which goes beyond simply benefiting people with the funds to afford a rental.

“There’s a lot of poor people in the rural areas of Northern India, so if people haven’t got the money to hire them out, they are actually given a dress for the day,” said Alicia.

The unexpected partnership fits right into The Salvation Army’s mission to live, love and fight alongside others – no matter where they live; a fact that instantly drew Leanne and her team to Alicia’s ministry.

“We are so rapt to be part of it. It’s right up there with what the Salvos do. One little act of kindness actually assists so many,” said Leanne.

Who knew a wedding dress could change the world?

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