Twenty-two new car seats, along with gently used and new bouncey chairs and strollers lined the wall. Several tables with rows of neatly-folded clothing clearly labeled by size about 2,000 items filled another room. In the bonus room, there were toys for pre-schoolers, and a smorgasbord of other items ideal for babies, such as nursing and feeding supplies, bedding and sleep sets, as well as blankets.
Home-made chocolate chip cookies, brownies, muffins and other tasty treats lay spread out awaiting the guests, who began lining up at 6:30 a.m. last Saturday morning to enjoy the community baby shower, sponsored by Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS).
It was first come, first served and each family was assigned a personal shopper to guide the moms-to-be, mothers and grandmothers through the shopping experience. Each family was allowed a package of wipes, one large item (like a car seat), a package of diapers, 10 items of clothing, and one pair of shoes, plus one blanket and whatever else needed from the bonus room.
The Reed sisters Ashlynn, 6, and Autumn, 2, were there with their mother, Tania. While mom looked through the bonus room, the girls checked-out the toy section, where Ashlynn found the perfect yellow Teddy bear. Great-grandmother Barbara Phillips held 6-month-old Kallie, while mother Kaitlin shopped for clothes. One find she was especially thrilled with was a new red-and-white Lady Bug dress that Kallie can grow into. Kallie is the ninth of Barbara's 12 great-grandchildren.
Post shopping, moms had the opportunity for some R&R sipping from a wine glass filled with chocolate milk, nibbling on chocolate-covered strawberries, and sighing over foot massages, pedicures or warm foot soaks and scrubs.
Some enjoyed the pampering pre-shopping like new mom Shaila Taylor and grandmother Sharon, who were waiting for their turn to begin shopping. MOPS helper Rita Rothchild, held Landon, just 12 days old, while Shaila "put her feet up." This is Taylor's second child; she also has a 7-year-old son, Daniel.
In order that mothers could focus and thoroughly enjoy the shopping and pampering experience carefree and childfree, 30 minutes of free childcare was provided.
Organizations such as MOPS, Helping Hands, Head Start and First 5, manned informational booths, which circled the outside courtyard. A certified lactation educator/counselor assisted new moms or answered questions from moms-to-be. The final station was the YLCC MOPS table, where each family could take a Bi-lingual Children's Bible, or one in English or Spanish.
This annual event is not only a way for moms of young children and expectant moms to obtain much-needed baby items, but a way to meet new friends and connect with other young mothers. When a MOPS mom has a baby, food is provided for two weeks by other members. MOPS moms become friends, their children become friends and they get together for play dates, and for park days.
"We want moms to leave this shower feeling supported, equipped and loved with the knowledge that they are not alone during this exciting and sometimes difficult time of life," Joy Judd, event coordinator for the past three years said. "I love being a part of this event as do all of the volunteers who serve at the shower. The volunteers who served the first year have served every year since. The whole event, from start to finish, is filled with joy. It's a celebration and it blesses everyone who is involved."
According to Judd, MOPS not only provides free baby items, but information, support and love from group members, as well as members from a number of area churches, including Sierra Vista Presbyterian, Yosemite Lakes Community, and Evangelical Free.
She estimates that 150 families have been served in the last two years. Most of the items are donated, and this year, due to a large monetary donation from Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, MOPS was able to purchase 22 new car seats.
"The main draw of the baby shower is all the free items that we give away," Judd continued, "but I think it has a far bigger impact on the moms who attend. In this sprawling mountain community it can be difficult to connect with people or meet people, which can leave new moms feeling isolated. This event helps moms and families connect with a whole community of moms and other local resources in the area for infants and preschoolers."
Area MOPS hold meetings at the following locations and times:
Morning MOPS of Oakhurst, 9-11 a.m., the first and third Tuesdays of the month, at Evangelical Free Church in Oakhurst, (559) 683-2254.
YLP MOPS, 9-11 a.m., the third Wednesday of the month at Yosemite Lakes Community Church of the Sierras in Coarsegold, (559) 658-7447.
Night MOPS of Oakhurst, 6-8 p.m., the second Thursday of the month at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church in Oakhurst, (559) 683-6742.