Soldiers' Angels, Fort Hood celebrate babies on board
May 10, 2011
FORT HOOD, Texas, May 10, 2011 -- The atmosphere in the Oveta Culp Hobby Soldier and Family Readiness Center was one of pure joy April 30, 2011, as 170 expectant mothers from Fort Hood were treated to a huge baby shower, courtesy of the Soldiers' Angels program, Operation Top Knot.
The baby shower was Texas-sized, with presents to match. Expectant mothers were each given a laundry basket filled with everything from bottles to blankets.
"It's more than I expected," Tina Durrah said after seeing her basket. Durrah, whose husband is a Soldier, is expecting her fourth child in a matter of days. Her friend, Tameka Brown, accompanied her to the shower.
"When I was in the Army eight years ago and had my twins, they didn't give me anything like this," Brown said with a laugh. "I think this is really nice."
The event at Fort Hood was the largest baby shower Operation Top Knot, or OTK, has put on to date. Amber Eller, the assistant leader for OTK said baby showers are usually hosted by the group at the Soldiers' Angels warehouse in San Antonio, and generally involve 25 to 50 women.
"We actually set our limit at 150, but then we ended up moving it to 170 to accommodate some more people," Eller said. "It filled up within three days."
To make sure the women in attendance had an impressive gift basket, members of Soldiers' Angels and OTK reached out to baby item manufacturers, who donated baby clothing, toys, bottles and even Diaper Genies to the organization. The help also came from individuals and groups around the U.S.
"Angels from across the United States who are part of the Top Knot program sent boxes filled with stuff to our warehouse and we separated that for each basket," Eller said.
The donations even came from Eller's own family.
"My grandmother hand-sewed a quilt for everybody," she said. "Her and my mother worked for months. They started in January and just finished last week."
Lindsay Varn, another OTK and Soldiers' Angels representative, said the showers are a nice way to support the wives of Soldiers who are deployed, and female Soldiers who are expecting.
"We do this mainly because we started noticing there was a big need from people who are away from their families and friends, stationed away from them and not really getting to have the fun showers," Varn said. "I just hope everyone enjoys themselves and gets to have some fun and be a little excited, whether their spouse or loved one is here or not, at least they get to come and have a little fun."
One couple who came to enjoy the event was Sgt. Jason Lawhorn and his wife, Candice. Jason stood out in the crowd, as one of the few men in attendance.
The Lawhorns also stood out amidst the expectant mothers, because they are in the process of adopting their bundle of joy.
When Candice heard about the event, she contacted the organization to see if adoptive parents could attend. Both Candice and Jason said they were welcomed with open arms.
"It's above and beyond anything I could ever have imagined," Candice said. "This is amazing."
The Lawhorns said their adoption process is nearing the end of the road.
"We've got our home study almost done," Jason said. "We're just waiting on it to get certified by the state and then it's just a matter of getting matched up with a birth mother or one of the thousands of children who are already in the Texas system."
He added that the baby shower was a nice way for expectant mothers to meet each other, and make some connections with women going through the same life-changing event.
"They can get out there and meet other mothers. It can be scary for a women who's having a kid for the first time and her husband is in Afghanistan," Jason said. "We're thankful they do stuff like this."