Massachusetts Community Rallies to Help Prom Dress Charity Hit by Thieves

Since a thief targeted a charity prom dress shop in Amesbury, Massachusetts, last week, donations have been pouring in. Now, the charity organizers say the goodness of the community is definitely overshadowing last week's crime.

"My heart broke, it actually broke," said Betty Vitale. "They're free, if someone needed 15 dresses, I would say come on in and take them," she said.

Amesbury Police say on Friday, someone broke in and stole more than a dozen dresses from Tammi's Closet at 140 Main St., the charity Vitale and her husband Ralph Neal started three year's ago in her honor of their daughter.

Tammi was only 19 years old when she died in a car crash.

"I was suicidal, I didn't want to be here anymore," Vitale said.

It took a long time, but Vitale and Neal finally found joy in donating Tammi's prom dress to a student in need.

"Some young lady got that dress and it made her prom," Neal said. "And that's what started Tammi's Closet after that."

Since word got out on social media about the burglary, Vitale says people from across Massachusetts have donated more than 50 dresses.

Nearby consignment shop owner Jaylene Buonodono showed us several dresses that she and her customers will be donating to Tammi's Closet.

"It's heartbreaking so everybody just wants to pull together and help in any way they can," Buonodono said Monday.

Thanks to the outpouring of support, Vitale now has more than 220 colorful ways to continue her daughter's legacy.

"When you say to somebody, 'where'd you get your dress,' and they say, 'Tammi's Closet,' they're not going to remember me, which is fine, but they're going to know Tammi," Vitale said. "She was such a great kid, she really was."

The Rock Church next door owns the building. Pastor Jon Howard says after the break in there were no signs of forced entry, so he's planning to change all the locks for Tammi's Closet as well as for the church. 

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