Heidi Pelkola goes through her basket of gifts as the Operation Showers of Appreciation threw a baby shower Saturday, July 30, 2011, at the Eastside Cannery for more than 100 new and expecting mothers who have deployed partners or are active-duty servicewomen.
Heidi Pelkola and her husband are getting ready for one of the biggest days of their lives.
But when that big day — the birth of their child — comes, Pelkola, who is five months pregnant, will be without her husband. A member of the Air Force, he is scheduled to deploy a month before the baby is due.
“It’s very difficult,” Pelkola said. “You just try to do the best you can to get through it and stay positive for him.”
Fortunately, Pelkola and other expectant mothers whose spouses and partners are in the armed services, have their military family to fall back on.
On Saturday, more than 125 women got together at the Eastside Cannery for a baby shower sponsored by Operation Showers of Appreciation, a nonprofit group that has helped 3,700 military families since 2006.
The women enjoyed lunch, gifts, massages and the chance to have professional photographs taken to send to spouses and partners serving around the world.
The event’s coordinator, Jody Shervanick, said that the organization tries to make things easier on moms left to care for children on their own.
“So many of these moms are going to unfortunately give birth alone, with no one in the hospital room with them [and] we want to support them,” Shervanick said.
So for the last month, she has collected donations at the Cannery, Rampart and Eastside Cannery casinos. Each mother-to-be received a laundry basket filled with gifts and one large item, such as a crib or a car seat.
“We forget that the entire family serves,” Shervanick said. “These spouses are serving as well, even though they don’t get the uniforms, they sacrifice a lot.”