Baby shower thrown for expectant military wives

July 10, 2012 (CHICAGO)

It was a chance to socialize and maybe even to compare baby bumps. But, most importantly, these military moms and moms-to-be had a chance to be in the spotlight at a group baby shower for close to 40 women whose husbands are either deployed overseas or away from home for extensive training.

"It is very hard to know that he is not going to be here, but I know that I have other people who are going through the same thing as me," said Jenna Knickerbocker.

Knickerbocker's husband is a Marine in Afghanistan who will miss the birth of their first child. But she says she is focusing on the outpouring of support from "Operation Shower," which put the event together.

For the past five years, the organization has traveled the country, giving presents to expectant military moms.

"The whole event is to get across to them how much people care and how much people want to thank them," said Operation Shower's LeAnn Morrissey, "and we hope that they leave knowing that and feeling that and we feel like they do."

And they also leave with just about everything they need for a baby: Diapers, diaper bags, bath products, burp cloths, clothes -- up to $700 worth of items, either donated or paid for by Operation Shower, all packed neatly in what's called a "shower in a box." Each mother gets one.

"Some of this stuff we have yet to get, so it's right off our checklist," said Avidalis Hurst.

But the gifts didn't stop there. There were more surprise giveaways including big-ticket raffle items like strollers.

While the mothers say the shower and the gifts are greatly appreciated, what means the most is the recognition for their service to the country.

"It's more than just making you feel special, you can see a lot of other women who are going through the same thing. You know you're not alone," said Vanessa Espinosa.

This is the 23rd shower organized by Operation Shower and the first time the event came to Chicago.

Presents went to moms from northern Illinois, northwest Indiana and southern Wisconsin.

To learn more about Operation Shower, visit

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