Fort Huachuca, Arizona - Gifts, prizes, games and friendship were just a few of the things expectant mothers received during a USO-sponsored baby shower held at Raymond W. Bliss Army Health Center on Friday.

Operation: Baby Shower was open to expectant mothers who were active-duty or military family members.

Lillian Garcia, USO center operations supervisor, said the USO sponsors these events as a way to support the military family, especially while the military member may be deployed or otherwise separated from their spouse.

"If the military member is away, they know their spouse is being cared for and that the birth of their baby will be celebrated," Garcia said.

Garcia said she was very happy with the amount of participation. Twenty of the 22 expectant mothers who registered came to the event.

In addition to a lunch provided by Outback, participants received one gift bag from the USO and included items such as onesies, diapers, hand-knit caps and booties, and toys. Army Community Service (ACS) also provided a gift bag that included educational and practical items for new mothers.
USO volunteers led the group of expectant mothers in a variety of games. Prizes included tubs, sit-up pillows, baby-carrying pouches and big ticket items such as strollers, bassinets and playpens.
Angel Barber, who won a Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym as a prize, said she thought the event was awesome.

"I didn't get to have a baby shower because we were PCSing," Barber said. "This is just amazing."
Another expecting mom, Alexis Whitener, said she was also happy for the USO event.
"My mom tried to do an online one for us, but I didn't get too much, so this is nice, especially being so far from home," Whitener said.

Lisa Zamudio, a visiting nurse with Family Advocacy's New Parent Support Program, said the event is also important because it enables new mothers to build new friendships with other military mothers in the community.

"A lot of these moms don't have family nearby so it's important to build friendships, and sometimes these friendships last a lifetime," Zamudio said.