For many military moms, the baby shower is a gift
October 10, 2014
SPRINGFIELD, Va. — Michelle Hicks is expecting, but she wasn’t expecting this.
Hicks, who is seven months pregnant with a boy, was among 100 military moms treated to baby showers in Virginia and North Carolina on Tuesday, getting free gifts, clothes, blankets, formula, supplements, carriers and other goodies for their little ones, plus some other freebies to pamper themselves.
Fifty moms and mothers-to-be from nearby bases including Fort Myer, Fort Belvoir and Fort Meade were given a baby shower in Springfield, Va. Another 50 were treated in Fayetteville, N.C.
“I did not expect this much,” said Hicks, who is married to a Coast Guardsman stationed at Fort Meade. “I’d probably cry (and say) ‘This is so sweet,’ but fortunately I’m in control of myself.”
The showers, dubbed “Star Spangled Babies,” were hosted by Operation Homefront, a nonprofit aimed at providing financial assistance to military families, in partnership with consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton.
The events were a chance to give back to military families, whose earnings can be low and who endure hardships civilian families don’t have to face, according to Operation Homefront.
“Many military mothers do not have the opportunity to be showered by their families,” said Roseanne Coleman, director of programs for Operation Homefront. “They don’t have the funds to travel home, they don’t have family here, local to them. So we started doing baby showers so the mothers could have the opportunity to be celebrated.”
The women also get diaper bags, a bundle with essential baby items and a mother’s gift — a care package with lotions, candles and other beauty products. They then get to browse a baby boutique and pick items such as blankets and onesies, some hand-made.
“Many of these mothers have never had a shower and won’t have a baby shower,” Coleman said. “This will be the only baby shower that they have.”
So far this year, the program has showered about 300 mothers who are married to active-duty servicemembers, wounded warriors or in the military themselves. It gives the expecting mothers a chance to find a support network and possibly even future play dates — all before the baby is born.
“It’s nice to have other moms relate with their husbands working long hours and going away,” said Jamie Shanfield, who brought her four-week-old son Derek. The boy was named after her Marine husband’s brother, who was killed in Afghanistan.
“It’s been very helpful just having people who are going through the same things,” Shanfield said.
For more information, visit www.operationhomefront.net.