By Brittany Carlson, Belvoir EagleMarch 7, 2014
Fort Belvoir, Va. (March 6, 2014) - The USO Warrior and Family Center showered 40 expecting mothers with information and gifts Sunday during Operation Belvoir Babies, sponsored by Babies"R"Us.
"This is the first one with 40 women. Traditionally, we've done 25, so we actually have had such large waitlists. Because Babies"R"Us came on board to help, we were able to bring out a lot more," said K. J. Stevens, USO Troops and Family Programs coordinator.
The USO hosts Operation Belvoir Babies three times a year for expecting spouses and servicemembers of all ranks and service branches in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, Stevens said.
The event focuses on sharing information about the area and military resources, and helping them celebrate and, grow their support systems, she added. This was the fourth shower to date.
"It is very focused on community building. We bring in information tables to let the women know about opportunities that they have in the area and as military women," Stevens said.
Krista Gaston, Army spouse, said she enjoyed getting to know other expecting mothers in the area.
"This is kind of like a baby shower away from home," she said. "(In the) military, you're constantly traveling, so you don't have friends and Family everywhere. It feels good being around somebody like you who understands."
The shower included an information fair, lunch, crafts and giveaways.
Representatives from the New Parent Support Group on different installations and members of the Stroller Warriors Running Club usually attend to provide information, Stevens said. USO employees also talk about the USO's programs for Families and expecting mothers.
"We talk about what opportunities we have for Families and kids here at the USO," she said. "We're starting a pre-natal yoga class here every other week."
All of the showers include baby-themed games. Sunday's games included a "dirty diaper" game where expecting moms had to guess which melted chocolate candies were inside diapers. They also guessed the flavors of baby foods and participated in a race for putting cloth diapers on water balloons.
"I think it's a lot of fun," said Janyé Wallace, Army spouse, who drove to the USO from Fort Meade for the shower.
Since this is her third baby, she wasn't going to have a shower, so she appreciated the chance to attend one anyway.
"I'm meeting friends, so that's always nice," she said.
Stevens said she hopes to expand the program to other military installations in the area to allow more women the opportunity to attend.
To register, women must be active duty or dependents of active duty and due in the next four months, following the shower date. Invited guests are determined based on a random drawing from the registration; others are put on a waitlist.
The next Operation Belvoir Babies shower will be June 7. Registration will open for two weeks through the USO newsletter and USO website in May.
For more information, visit the USO-Metro Operation Belvoir Babies web page at www.usometrodc.org/sub-page.php?p=81b96e4415baeb5b75eefbcdbf8898f844e489ea840cdddc3a85b9c89e536a0fb889b1d4efb4f1a2fe225b53534f9edfad0d85a63d2a2e084df52b12096ba1928asp=61.