Operation Shower Honors Military Moms-to-Be With Caring and Compassion
A week later, her Navy husband was deployed overseas on the USS Boxer. Now, she is home alone in San Diego, Calif., with two young sons.
That's why Robles says she is especially grateful for the mega baby shower and the outpouring of gifts that included car seats, diapers and gift boxes filled with baby supplies, clothing, toys, books and much more.
"We are so grateful for everything and the support," Robles, who named her new baby after her husband, Rafael Chavar, tells ParentDish.
The shower, held in January at Torrey Pines Golf Course and sponsored by Operation Shower, a St. Louis-based nonprofit, was co-sponsored by the PGA Tours Farmers Insurance Open and the March of Dimes.
"Having a baby can be challenging, but can be an even greater (challenge) when your husband is deployed overseas by the U.S. military," Courtney Faith Vera, a mom of two and deployment readiness group leader for the California Army National Guard in Lake Elsinore, Calif., tells ParentDish.
Vera, whose husband is a California Army National Guard Commander, helped coordinate the Torrey Pines event and was the featured speaker.
"Programs like this that support families and moms are very significant because so many military families move so often and live far away from friends and families and have little support," Vera says. "It adds a whole other layer of stress to having a baby and that can lead to a higher risk for complications."
Operation Shower was founded in 2007 by LeAnn Morrissey, a former attorney who stepped off the legal track when her daughter Keilan was born eight years ago. At the time, she tells ParentDish, she wanted to find some way to help the troops.
"My uncle was overseas and I felt I needed to do something to support him," she tells ParentDish. "I kept asking my uncle 'is there anything I can do to help you; is there anything you need?' He asked me to send cards to the wives of four of his troops who were expecting babies."
But Morrissey says she wanted to more than send a card.
"So, some friends and family members and I created 'Showers in a Box' for these women, filling them with little things like baby supplies, but (also) with pampering items for them like nail kits and bath items, something to make them feel special, too. The response we heard from the moms and the men was amazing."
The volunteer-run organization was born.
"I realized as a mom, myself, what it must feel like if you are about to give birth and your husband was oversees and decided it was a need we wanted to fill," she says. "But then add to that all the stresses of having your husband not there -- that must make moms-to-be and new moms so stressed."
In the last four years, Operation Shower has hosted baby showers for more than 500 military moms in groups ranging in size from 10 to more than 100, and in states from California and Texas to Illinois and Missouri to Mississippi and Florida.
The organization has expanded the "Shower in a Box," concept, sending "individual showers" to military moms, and has held 13 unit-wide mega baby bashes on military bases across the country for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard, Morrissey says.
The celebration makes a big difference in the lives of military moms-to-be, Vera says. And the baby essentials -- wipes, diapers and formula -- "let the moms know that at least the essentials have been taken care of and they have one less thing to worry about."
At the Torrey Pines Operation Shower event, all 38 moms were given car seats.
"That was humbling and exciting to watch, as so many of the moms had tears when they received them," Vera says.
Giving thanks to military families is the ultimate mission of Operation Shower, Morrissey adds.
"We're all grateful for what soldiers and other military are doing for all of us," she tells ParentDish. "We believe that there is no greater way (to show them that) than by throwing a party and celebrating and supporting them at this very special time in their lives."
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