By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsAugust 23, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Aug. 23, 2018) -- The Commons ballroom was decorated in a circus theme Aug. 22 as 39 expectant mothers at Fort Drum were invited to an exclusive baby shower.
Hosted by the non-profit Operation Shower with the theme "The Greatest Shower on Earth," attendees were treated to a pasta and pizza lunch, shower games, raffles and more.
This is the third Operation Shower appearance at Fort Drum. Amy Belle Isle, Operation Shower chief creative officer, said that they host 17 showers annually at military installations across the country. They have honored 5,000 military mothers since the organization's inception in 2007.
"This is a way for us to recognize these spouses because we know that the whole family serves, and not just the one in uniform," she said.
The event included a pasta and pizza lunch, shower games, raffles and guest speakers. Every mom-to-be was presented with a "Shower in a Box" - a huge assortment of baby essentials such as bibs and bottles, diapers and diaper bags, clothes and a cuddly teddy bear.
"Our signature Shower in a Box has everything that you would register for at a baby shower," Belle Isle said. "We want to give them gifts to get started with their new babies, but really, this is also a way for them to make connections with other moms in the same situation."
She welcomed all the mothers and said that, for all the event organizers, shower days are their favorite days of the year.
"Today is just about you, the moms," Belle Isle said. "We have a lot of great gifts for you today, but most of all we hope that you leave here knowing that you're seen and supported. We're all about moments of joy and we have a lot of those planned for you today."
Spc. David Prieto, with 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, was one of several volunteers at the event to assist with the distribution of gifts and prizes. They also helped keep some of the children in attendance entertained.
"Everyone is like a family toward us, and this is our way to appreciate them back," he said. "We are brothers and sisters together and we always want to take care of each other."
Lidia Nichols, wife of Sgt. Eric Nichols from 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, is expecting her second child - a girl - and is preparing for her husband to deploy.
"This was really exciting," she said. "I don't really have family around so I didn't want to worry about doing a baby shower by myself. It was nice to get out of the house and get treated like this."
She said that the Shower in a Box contained a lot of cute things she will be dressing her daughter in, and she was also interested in meeting some of the other expectant mothers.
"I don't really have a ton of friends, so it was nice - I met a nice woman at my table," she said.
Kasie Sullivan, 14 weeks pregnant, brought her 2-year-old daughter Nikayla to the party.
"Having experienced a small shower before, you get a lot of gifts, but I wasn't expecting this much," she said. "It was a lot. That's awesome that they were able to bring this here."
Sullivan said that she heard about Operation Shower on one of the Fort Drum spouses' social media sites, and thought it would be fun to attend a group baby shower.
Also in attendance was Stacey Fry, the New Parent Support Program's lead home visitor. She spoke about the program, which falls under Army Community Service.
"We work with families in their homes to provide growth and development education, and to help support you during your parenting journey," she said.
Fry said that they offer pre-natal support and it extends up to 36 months of age, but the Family Advocacy Program provides services for parents throughout all stages of the child's life.
"You are more than welcome to call ACS and talk to us by phone if you have questions, or if you want parenting resources we can definitely meet you in an office visit," she said. "Parenting can be overwhelming and confusing sometimes, and we're here to help you sort through all that information."
For more information about New Parent Support classes, call (315) 772-0748 or visit www.facebook.com/FtdrumFAP.