Groups Help the Few, the Proud, the Expecting

By Sharon Foster
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2008 - Two troop-support groups hosted a "Military Showers of Appreciation" for 15 expectant military mothers July 27 at Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Many of the expectant mothers helped by the two groups -- North Star Group and Operation Showers of Appreciation -- have spouses who are deployed and will not be home for the birth of their new babies.

"Military Showers of Appreciation assists active-duty military families from all branches that are expecting new babies with various items they will need to care for their new baby," said Mandy Sims, vice president of the North Star Group. "Because many of these pregnant mothers have babies alone with new fathers deployed, we pay special attention to pampering these spouses and supporting them positively during this time."

The North Star Group -- a home-front supporter of the Defense Department's America Supports You program -- has been hosting "Military Showers of Appreciation" since 2006. The group decided to make this event one of their various military programs after a North Star Group volunteer and military veteran had her baby alone during her husband's deployment.

"This shower shed a little sunlight on a difficult time that many military spouses experience during constant deployments," Sims said. "Many people do not realize the sacrifices the entire military family makes during a deployment. It is important to the North Star Group that military families know they are appreciated and that they are not alone."

The baby showers are held quarterly, and applications are accepted on a first-come, most-needed basis. Twenty to 25 spouses are honored per shower each quarter.

At the most recent baby shower, held in July, the North Star Group and Operation Showers of Appreciation honored the 100th family assisted. Families at the special shower received lunch, gifts, massages, mini-makeovers and professional family portraits.

"I received a lot of baby necessities," said Ashley Ruiz, who attended the July 27 shower. "Everything from baby bottles to a bassinet, the gifts helped us out a lot. The entire event was just a very supportive, caring atmosphere. I really enjoyed it. The baby shower also provided me an opportunity to meet and make new friends with other pregnant military moms."

North Star Group plans to work with Operation Showers of Appreciation again in planning the next "Military Showers of Appreciation" event, scheduled Dec. 6 for 20 expectant mothers at Camp Pendleton. Military families are informed about these baby showers through information and application flyers and news releases distributed on bases and posted online at the North Star Group and Operation Showers of Appreciation Web sites.

"We will make every attempt to do something special for expecting families even if they miss the shower cut-off dates," Sims said. "These quarterly showers are currently held at Camp Pendleton and Twentynine Palms, California, base locations, with plans of expanding to bases in other states in the future. All military servicemembers in California willing to travel to the shower from any military bases in the area are welcome to apply."

To be considered, applicants must provide a valid active-duty military ID, current leave and earnings statement, proof of pregnancy and a completed application.

The North Star Group, which also offers information referral services to these mothers, is a supporter of the Defense Department's America Supports You program, which connects citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

*Related Sites:*
North Star Group  [ ]
Operation Showers of Appreciation  [ ]
Groups Help the Few, the Proud, the Expecting  [ ]