FORT CAMPBELL, KY, Nov. 17, 2011--Veterans Day weekend gave more than 50 moms-to-be at Fort Campbell a little more to be thankful for. As spouses of deployed or injured service members or Soldiers themselves, they were invited to take part in a baby shower hosted by Operation Shower. The non-profit partnered with Birdies for the Brave and Pottery Barn Kids to make the event something the moms would remember.
"Our goal is simple," said LeAnn Morrissey, Operation Shower co-founder and chief shower officer. "We hope this shower makes a difference for you…to let you know you are loved and you are thought of and recognized for what you do every day as a member of a military Family, the member who holds it all together. We want to say thank you. This is our great big giant thank you the Operation Shower way, which is with a party, fun and gifts."
The shower was at the Family Resource Center Nov. 12. The room was decorated to reflect the theme of "Over the moon," based on the nursery rhyme "Hey Diddle Diddle" and to reflect on this being a joyous time for the Families. Pfc. Brittany Cheeks, an automated logistical specialist with 227th Quartermaster Supply Company, 129th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, loved the way the room looked and especially loved one of the colors used.
"When I got here, I thought the setup was very pretty," said Cheeks. "My favorite color is purple."
Cheeks is a first-time and single mom. Like many of her fellow moms-to-be at the shower, she is not near Family and even with an expected due date of Thanksgiving quickly approaching there was still some items she hadn't gotten yet.
"It really does help because they never know who needs help with what," said Cheeks. "Me, in my personal life, this shower has helped me a lot -- things I haven't bought yet with being by myself, things I couldn't get yet. I love it. I am glad I was told about it."
Cheeks, who found out about the shower from Sgt. 1st Class David Taylor, her detachment commander, and the other moms received a shower in a box filled with stuff for the new additions in their lives -- everything from clothes to toys to books and more were in the boxes. Each box was hand-packed and was filled with items based on if the moms were having a boy or a girl. Two of the moms received two boxes each since they are expecting twins.
After being medically evacuated from Afghanistan in September due to a broken hand, Pfc. Joseph Arsola was able to attend the baby shower with his wife Victoria. The first-time parents, who were only five days away from the expected due date of their son at the time of the shower, were overjoyed and excited to take part in the shower. They may not have expressed it much in words, but the looks on their faces as they went through the box said it all.
"It's wonderful," said Victoria.
"It's amazing," said Joseph.
As part of Operation Shower's partnership with Birdies for the Brave, Kenny Perry, a professional golfer with the Professional Golf Association Tour, and his wife Sandy spoke with the Families. Kenny's father served during World War II so he thinks highly of service members and their Families.
"My dad was in the Battle of the Bulge and when he tells me stories of being in the foxhole for 30 days and didn't even take his boots off when the Germans were advancing on his company, you realize the sacrifice each of you guys are making; not only is he making a sacrifice, you all are making a sacrifice as well," said Kenny.
With his years as a professional golfer, even though he has three children, it was the first time he attended a baby shower.
"I didn't know what to expect," said Kenny. "I'm excited about being here. It's a fun day for me….I want you gals to have a great day. Have fun and Sandy and I, we're just excited to be a part of it."
Sandy spoke with the moms about having an understanding of sometimes being on your own as a parent. She reminded the moms to not be afraid to ask for help and much more.
"By the time we had three children, he was gone 33 weeks, maybe 35, a year," said Sandy. "So I was by myself with the kids. It was easy to get so wrapped up in what I was doing that I forgot about what he was sacrificing being away. I had Kenny to miss; he had three children and a wife to miss. So try to always put your husband or partner in a positive light."
Kenny and Sandy helped to hand out the boxes and prizes to each of the moms. In addition to everything in their shower in a box, each mom received a humidifier, a baby carrier, a bag of diapers, a baby pillow and a wash cloth and onesie made to look like a cupcake. There were also drawings for prizes like a stroller, feeding supplies, baby books and more.
The final grand prize was a crib donated by Pottery Barn Kids. Each mom was told to look at the back of her place card for a number. There were some looks of confusion when the moms started to realize they all had the same number until the number was drawn and they were told they were all getting a crib. The room filled with cheers, smiles and happy tears. One of the moms compared getting so much to being on one of Oprah Winfrey's giveaway shows.
Cheeks, who was the winner of a stroller, was excited to find out about the crib. While it was one of the few items she already had, she knew it would go to good use.
"My mom bought me a crib already," said Cheeks. "I'm going to give one crib to a friend who I know needs it. There's stuff in [the shower in a box] that I know I can help a couple of friends out with. I'm just glad I found out about it."
Operation Shower was started in 2007 after Morrissey spoke with her uncle. He was deployed at the time and she wanted to know what she could do to help. After missing his son's birth, he suggested she do something for the moms.
"We're inspired each and every time we come to a base to continue to try to do as many more showers as we can to reach as many military Families as we can," said Morrissey.
This was the first time Operation Shower has come to Fort Campbell. Morrissey was thankful for the opportunity to help put on what is Operation Shower's 18th baby shower.
"Thank you to each and every mom here…for the service of your Family," she said. "Thank you for the honor of hosting this shower and allowing us to be a part of such a very important part of your life."
For more information about Operation Shower, go to www.operationshower.org or find them on facebook at www.facebook.com/OperationShower.