The Veterans Administration hosted an annual drive-through baby shower on Friday, Sept. 23rd. The event was set to help 85 expecting and new mothers of a year or less. The largest donor for this years’ event was the American Legion Auxiliary (ALA). They partnered with the VA for these baby showers in 2015, which is when the program started. According to Bettina Kossow, the department president of the American Legion Auxiliary of Colorado, the ALA collected cash donations from more than 70 chapters or units all over Colorado that go to the state office in Denver. The cash donations were used to purchase gift cards and larger items like strollers and car seats for the raffle. The raffle was held before the event so that mothers who participated were aware of the prizes they would collect at the drive-through baby shower.
To get in the spirit, organizers and volunteers wore yellow and black as per their “bee theme” this year and some even wore antennae headbands. Tables lined both sides of the drive-through area, where volunteers were giving out different gift bags or items like crocheted blankets, quilts, diapers, wipes, knitted hats and sweaters.
In addition to gifts handed out by various organizations, such as the ALA, The Red Cross and The Elks Club, mothers could also use mental health booths to get help for postpartum care. The Aurora Police Department was also on hand to do safety checks for proper car seat installation.
The mothers, who are all veterans, were notified of the baby shower via mail and phone. Mothers who were not able to physically participate could get their items shipped by Amazon Warriors free of charge.
One expecting mother who participated was Staff Sergeant Amber Nielsen of the Air Force. She did not know what to expect from her first drive-through baby shower, other than the basic diaper and wipes. She was most excited about a hand-knitted sweater and her for her expected newborn. Nielsen said this time she is taking advantage of the programs offered by the VA, including post-partum care.
She was not aware of all the services available to her during her first pregnancy. “I didn’t have that with my first and they probably had some thing but it wasn’t pushed as much. At my first appointment they mentioned I have this so I feel like it’s being talked about more and what’s available. Multiple people have reached out to me this time to let me know what I have available.” The VA wants the mothers to know about and utilize the mental health programs and postpartum care from the start.
Eva Gergely is the Voluntary Service Officer for the VA and she is hoping to expand the program so that it not only includes female veterans, but also male veterans and their expecting families. Anyone can donate items for the drive-through baby shower you just have to contact voluntary services and they can arrange a drop off time or they will come and pick up items. According to Eva, “We won’t turn anything away. We usually will figure out the bags and if the bags are already full we will save it for the following year.” The next drive-through baby shower will be held in Colorado Springs in April 2023. If you would like to donate you can contact Eva Gergely via email (Eva.firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 720-723-3074.