Showering military moms-to-be with love


When expecting the birth of a child, mothers usually have a village of friends and family rallying around them, ready to welcome their baby with open arms. For many, a baby shower brings the family together to gather gifts like onesies, bibs, cradles and more. For women in the military or partners of military personnel, a baby shower is harder to put together while being miles away from family.

In an effort to support soon-to-be moms, the Islanders Children’s Foundation, Operation Shower and Ryan, LLC, the tax advisory partner of the Islanders, put together a baby shower for 25 active-duty service members and their partners or spouses on April 3 at UBS Arena in Elmont. The military service members and their spouses were from the metropolitan area, including personnel from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New York National Guard, New Jersey National Guard and the U.S. Coast Guard.

“A lot of these families are stationed here in the Long Island, New York, metro area, they’re away from their families, and they don’t have a chance to have a baby shower like you would if you were living at home surrounded by your family and friends,” said Ann Rina, executive director of community relations for the Islanders. “So this gives us an opportunity to bring them all together and to really show them our appreciation.”

Operation Shower is a nonprofit organization that helps support military moms-to-be by providing baby showers in efforts to ease the stresses of deployment. It was founded in 2007 in St. Louis, and has showered more than 9,000 military moms from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and National Guard since its inception.

Sarah Buckley, an expecting mom from Carmel, New Jersey, said the event helped her as her husband, Spc. Sean Buckley, is stationed overseas in the Army until next year.

“I’m really appreciative that they thought of us, especially since he’s overseas,” Buckley said. “Even though we do have family and friends, but this is nice to have the support.”

Her husband won’t be home for their baby’s birth, which she said was the hardest part about being a part of an expecting military family.

The 25 moms-to-be enjoyed a catered lunch, interactive games, raffle prizes, and Operation Shower’s signature “Shower in a Box.” These boxes included essential baby products for new parents, which were donated by Diaper Genie, Romp and Roost, Delta Children and Stella and Dot.

Staff Sgt. Anthonette Adewale, who is expecting her first baby, was happy to attend the event.

“I’ve been looking forward to it,” Adewale said.

Staff Sgt. Victoria Pinkley, who is expecting her second baby, brought her son Atticus, 3, with her to the event.

“Everything is always a help,” she said of the baby shower.

MSG broadcaster Shannon Hogan served as the baby shower, welcoming all of the families to UBS Arena. Everyone in the room learned a bit more about each other through a poem Hogan read, asking questions such as what military moms have had two or more bases to call home, who at each table had been serving in the military the longest, and more.

Amy Bell Isle, chief creative officer for Operation Shower, spoke to the audience about her organization’s mission and what it means to be able to help.

“We know that every day you all represent our country and you fight for something greater than yourselves, but again, today is about you,” Bell Isle said. “Our hope is that at the end of the time together, that you know you’re loved, you feel celebrated, and that you have some great gifts for you and your little baby — and you’ll know that you’re not alone and that you’ve made a new friend.”

She read from a survey passed out to the expecting moms before the shower that asked about their experiences in the military or as a service member’s partner, connecting everyone in the room through their shared experiences.

In response to a question about what the hardest part of being a part of an expecting military family is, several moms answered that “We are always too far from our friends and our family for support.” Active-duty moms or dual military families answered that the uncertainty and worry of times when they’re not able to be there for their family are the hardest part.

Daniel Etna, marketing manager of global events for Ryan LLC, congratulated all of the expecting moms at the baby shower.

“We talk so much about the sacrifices that our service members make, and I think it goes without saying that that extends to the family members too,” Etna said.