OAKHURST – All pregnant moms and all families with children age-5-and-under are invited to a free Community Baby Shower on Saturday, Mar. 21, from 9 a.m. – noon at Sierra Vista Presbyterian Church.
The annual event, now in its fourth year, is hosted by Sierra Vista Presbyterian Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS), EV Free MOPS, and Yosemite Lakes Community Church MOPS. Childcare will be provided for moms and families as they shop for free items and enjoy the relaxing spa room while they steal a few quiet moments alone with grown-ups.
“MOPS is really about bringing moms of young children together so that they can support and encourage one another,” says Joy Judd, MOPS Outreach Coordinator at Sierra Vista. “In our local groups we meet one to two times a month and we share a meal, listen to a speaker on a relevant topic to us or do some other activity, and relax while volunteers watch our children for a couple of hours.”
Over time, the women of MOPS and their families have grown close as a group, even as they welcome new members.
“When one of our members has a baby we bring meals to that family for a couple of weeks to help ease the strain of those first difficult weeks. We watch each other’s kids, throw baby showers for each other, arrange moms night outs and other activities, all in an effort to support one another.”
Judd and other moms know that the preschool years can lead to feelings of isolation, and that it’s nice to know that one is not alone in the mundane but essential day-to-day challenges of raising children.
“All of us who are a part of MOPS feel blessed to have such a great community and find comfort that we are not the only family that is struggling with potty training, picky eaters, or babies who won’t sleep in their cribs. Some days I spend 90% of my time talking to my children. MOPS is a nice break to talk with other adults, uninterrupted for a couple of hours.”
It’s this blessed feeling that makes the MOPS women want to share what they can gather with the community at large. Last year, about 80 families attend this free event where moms are “showered” with freebies and attention, and organizers are hoping to have many more families participate this year. They ask that readers spread the word, adding that it’s not necessary to join any group to come be part of the Baby Shower.
“The community baby shower is a way to introduce the community to MOPS while also helping them with needed baby supplies. You do not have to go to church to come to the shower or to be in a MOPS group to come and enjoy the Community Baby Shower.”
The MOPS also know how expensive it is to raise children these days, which is another reason they hold the event every year.
“Our local churches have really embraced it and want to help this community. We are thankful for a large monetary donation from Sierra Vista Church that allowed us to purchase 26 new car seats to give away to families this year,” continues Joy. “They open their whole church for this event and many members participate in making and donating food, volunteering to provide childcare for families while they shop and helping families find the items that they need. We will also have diapers, wipes and lots of clothing for families to take home.”
On arriving at the Community Baby Shower, each family registers and is given a personal shopper to guide them through the well-organized gifting arena which sprawls from room to room. While families wait to enter, snacks will be available, along with entertainment for the kids. Then the complimentary shopping shall commence!
“Each family can take one item from the Large Item Room, which includes new car seats and new or gently used cribs, swings, strollers, high chairs, and more. Next, the family will be taken to a room filled with diapers and wipes and they will be allowed to take one package of each as long as supplies last,” Joy explains, reminding guests that all items are subject to availability.
“Families then move into the Bonus Room filled with blankets, toys, diaper bags, baby carriers, formula, nursing supplies, and maternity clothes, where each family chooses five items. Next will be our clothing room which will have thousands of items of new and gently used clothing from infant size to 5T. Each family will be able to take at least 10 items of clothing and a pair of shoes.”
One of the best stops on the Baby Shower indoor circuit is the Spa Room, something most moms only dream of. Mom gets to relax in the spa room for a few minutes, “lovingly hosted by members of the Yosemite Lakes Community Church MOPS group who do an amazing job of pampering moms that came through the shower,” Joy says.
Two lactation consultants will also be on hand offering free services to new or expectant moms.
In just a few years, the gathering has grown significantly. Throughout the event, the theme of connection is clear, from sharing free goodies to meeting others and finding out what the community has to offer for young families in the foothills.
“We also make a point to provide families with opportunities to meet people from other organizations and services that they can utilize, including First Five, Head Start and Helping Hands all have tables at our event along with the participating churches.”
“All of these opportunities and products are available for free. This is our way of supporting and encouraging moms in our community who aren’t a part of our group. We had an excellent turnout last year and we are excited about inviting the community back to our event.”