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Businessman Donates Wedding Dresses To Joplin, Mo. Brides

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David Gaffke is helping out the brides of Joplin, Mo. (CBS)

David Gaffke is helping out the brides of Joplin, Mo. (CBS)

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EAST DUNDEE, Ill. (CBS) — A businessman in East Dundee is interested in more than just making money. He’s reaching out to any bride who lost a wedding dress in the Joplin, Mo. tornado and offering them a free gown.

And, as CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, he’s not alone in the goodwill effort.

David Gaffke has been helping brides to be for more than 30 years.

But it’s usually in his East Dundee bridal shop. Now, Gaffke’s using Facebook to help the brides in Joplin, where tornadoes left more than 100 people dead and nearly 2,000 structures destroyed last month.

“Traditionally, girls take gowns home a month before a wedding, so any wedding in May or June, those gowns were in a closet and those closets are no longer there,” Gaffke says.

Gaffke plans to donate more than 50 gowns from his shop, and he’s already heard from a national bridal manufacturer willing to donate another 250.

Cathy Ilani is the principal of a private school in Elgin. After learning about the drive on Facebook, she will donate 250 bridesmaid dresses on behalf of Einstein Academy. She’s sharing new dresses that were donated for an upcoming fundraiser.

The bridesmaids dresses range from $180 to $300. The bridal gowns are close to $1,000 each.

Gaffke isn’t concerned about taking a loss.

“If the gown isn’t moving here, it might brighten up somebody else’s day somewhere else,” he said.

Gaffke has also heard from former brides willing to donate their dresses.

He plans to deliver the dresses to churches where the rescheduled weddings will be held.

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