Showering moms

Nearly 150 families were served at the Fifth Annual Community Shower sponsored by Mountain Area chapters of Mothers of Preschool Children (MOPS) March 12.

The event, held at Oakhurst’s Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church, offered a large variety of baby supplies for expectant mothers, and services from community organizations.

Desiree Micallef, 22, of Oakhurst, is having her first baby, and she brought her mother Susie to the event with her. Upon their arrival, they were assigned a personal shopper to assist them - Nikki Lewis, herself due on May 14. The threesome had fun picking out a number of perfect outfits for Desiree’s baby boy who is due in early September.

“This is an amazing and fun event,” Desiree said. “Everyone is so nice and Nikki is so helpful.”

Donations made to the event included new and gently used items in excellent condition. About 90 of the families were able to pick a large item from the selection of 32 new car seats, six strollers, six baby swings, five bassinets, five free 30-minute photo sessions from A Moment in Time Photography, and more than 30 other large baby and toddler items.

The new car seats were made possible by a large financial gift given by the members of Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church and an additional donation by the Oakhurst Sunrise Rotary Club. Soroptomist International of the Sierras also partnered with MOPS for a second year with a cash donation that paid for 15 large items, plus 24 pairs of new shoes for toddlers.

In additional to a large item, families also received a package of diapers from the 140 donated packages, and a package of baby wipes from the more than 200 packages available.

This year Golden Hills Dental donated more than 200 tubes of children’s toothpaste.

Moms and dads who waited around until the end of the shower were allowed to take home more than the initial allowance of 10 items of clothing from the more than 4,000 donated pieces of clothing. Many families were able to take two grocery bags full of clothes home.

Families could also select two additional items and a blanket from a bonus room that included more than 1,000 items such as nursing supplies, formula, maternity clothes, bathing supplies, toys, and books.

The Tabitha Project, a ministry of Sierra Vista, spent this last year making more than 100 handmade nursing covers and 50 bibs for moms to choose from to take home. A lactation consultant was on-hand to answer questions and help new and soon-to-be moms with any nursing issues.

Families were also gifted a baby Bible from MOPS made possible by donations from members of Yosemite Lakes Community Church. Members of the MOPS groups and church members of Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church and Yosemite Lakes Community Church also donated food for the event.

Personal shoppers, volunteers from MOPS groups, churches, and members of the community were on-hand to assist each family, taking them through the shower to receive their free items.

“This is especially important for first-time moms,” said Joy Judd, this year’s MOPS Community Baby Shower coordinator. “Many new or first-time moms aren’t sure what they will actually need when the baby comes home. Some of the baby items are so specialized that a pregnant mom might not even know what some of the items are. It really helps to have a personal shopper who has been through the baby phase before and can help first timers pick out what they will really need.”

After all the shopping was done, moms were invited to relax and enjoy the spa room hosted by the Yosemite Lakes Community Church MOPS group. This year’s spa included a professional make-up artist, a manicurist, and a massage therapist, along with healthy snacks to eat while moms enjoyed some much-needed pamper time.

“Donations just poured in this year,” Judd said. “As word has spread about how we are reaching out to love and serve members of our community, more and more people and organizations have become involved. The volunteers who serve each year see how much this event means to families with small children in our area, and they want to give them even more. Families walked away with far more gifts and services than that first year in 2012 and that is just a sign of the generosity and support this community has for its own.”

“We estimate that more than $15,000 in financial gifts and donations of goods and services were given this year,” a smiling Judd said.

Judd said the quality of used clothing this year was amazing and the event received 4,000 clothing items, twice as much as last year.

Diapers are expensive, and we had many generous donors, including one individual who donated several hundred dollars just in boxes of diapers. Our biggest growth was probably in the Large Item Room where we went from 55 items to more than 90. This is where the generosity of our local moms really shines. Many of the used items in this room could have been sold to bring in money for their own families. But most of these moms have been blessed by the community baby shower or they’ve been blessed by volunteering at it, so they donated that large item instead of selling it themselves.”

Other organizations were on-hand at the shower to help support local families, including First Five, Head Start, Helping Hands (local pregnancy center offering free pregnancy tests and parenting classes), Soroptomist International of the Sierras, and additional ministries from Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church and Yosemite Lakes Community Church.

About MOPS

MOPS group meets either once or twice a month and includes a meal, childcare, and a speaker or event that will inform, inspire or encourage the moms who attend.

The Sierra Vista MOPS group meets 6-8 p.m. the second Thursday of the month.

The Yosemite Lakes Community Church MOPS meets 9-11 a.m. the third Wednesday of the month.

Any woman who is pregnant or has a child 6 years of age or younger is welcome to attend any of these groups.

A new group just began at Oakhurst EV Free called Moms Time Out, and is open to moms with kids of all ages. It meets 9-11 a.m. the first and third Tuesdays of the month. These groups will hold their last meetings in May before starting up again in September.