By Cheryl Harrison, Army Community Service MarketingMay 7, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- With the Army Community Service auditorium at Building 2797 looking more like a balloon-filled musical baby land, the second annual Operation Baby Shower April 30 was deemed a huge success by everyone who attended.
"This is a great event that focuses on our expectant military Families," said Mary Scott, event coordinator and New Parent Support Educator. "And that is what it's all about, our Soldiers and their Families."
With more than 350 in attendance at the four-hour event, the moms-to-be waded in and new mothers rolled in the strollers for the festivities and played baby shower games all afternoon, hoping to hear their number drawn for one of hundreds of giveaways.
Even new dads got into the fun with their own door prizes, but only if they were willing to try on the empathy belly and get the heavy and uncomfortable feeling of being pregnant. Lots of dads were game and took the opportunity to experience, in a fun way, a pregnant woman's discomfort.
"I think a lot of the ladies that came out today were happy with the event," said Ashley Duran, Family Advocacy Program educator. "They received lots of free gifts and outreach information. A lot of military Families don't have immediate Family nearby and it was fun to see the pregnant or new moms have an opportunity to interact with each other."
Many gifts were donated by a group of ladies who were on hand to give lots of baby gifts and door prizes. The Blue Bonnet Babies, a non-profit organization, gave handmade gifts for the new babies, which thrilled and touched the hearts of the moms.
This San Antonio-based group started up in 2004 and have been clicking their crochet and knitting needles ever since. They are a group who enjoy crafting for charity, giving out layettes, baby blankets, bottle warmers and lap throws, among other items.
The group began working on gifts for this year's shower a year ago, and the new parents who attended the shower reaped the benefits of their hard work. Each pregnant or new mom received handmade gifts and also had the opportunity to win one of the many door prizes the group created.
The group has expanded nationwide and crafters send their creations to San Antonio to be given at downtown San Antonio hospitals, Fort Sam Houston and Brooke Army Medical Center and even to wounded warriors.
Soldiers at the Warrior and Family Support Center, Fisher Houses or recovering at BAMC receive handmade lap quilts, labors of love by a group of ladies whose names they may never know, but whose heart is in the gifts they create.
The Blue Bonnet group meets once a month to fill diaper bags to be distributed to new babies in San Antonio hospitals, and at Fort Sam Houston and Lackland Air Force Base. Each diaper bag holds items made by five to 20 people. At each meeting, 20 to 30 bags are filled for distribution.
"When we were here last year, we didn't have near as much and we wanted to be here this year.
This way we get to see the people who receive our things," said Lyn McMeely, spokesperson and co-creator of Blue Bonnet Babies. "We began preparing right after last year's shower. In February, we started to receive boxes from all over the nation, just for today's event. This has been our biggest project so far. It is really special."