Being the 2011 Military Spouse Magazine Army Spouse of the Year really opens a lot of doors that would not otherwise get opened. You get to really do a lot of volunteer work and outreach to military families, which I LOVE! I have met so many incredible women, and it just makes me so excited to see all these mommies. I am so lucky to be living in one of the best military-friendly counties in the state of North Carolina.
On Saturday June 25, 2011 I was lucky enough to volunteer with Fayetteville Cares. I was a table hostess for 5 of the 143 tables at the Crown Coliseum Expo Center. So are you wondering what it was about? Well it was the World’s Largest Military Baby Shower, “Boots and Booties,” for 1000 military spouses who have recently had a baby or are about to have a baby. How exciting! And I think I actually had the best tables in the entire Expo Center.
I arrived at the event at noon and received my assignment of what I had to do. As I watched all of the mommies arrive, and became quite excited. I escorted them to which ever table they liked most and chatted with each of them to make them feel welcome. Seeing all these mommies and some newborns almost made me wish I was pregnant. HA! (Whew, that was a close one, but I did come back to my senses after having just finished potty training my last child).
Jenny Beaver of Fayetteville did an amazing job of decorating the Expo Center, including the cute candies that decorated the stage. The room was decorated very brightly, with the tables colored bright pink, green,and orange. They had two types of door prizes, ones with red tickets and one with blue tickets. The blue tickets were for big item prizes like a changing table, a Disney rug and other such items. The red ticket items were for things like gift certificates, day spa prizes, photography packages, and things for the babies.
For about an hour, the ladies walked around dropping off tickets in the door prizes they wanted to win. Around 2:30pm the event started. Joanne Chavonne and Kirk DeViere, the two co-chair, kicked the event off. They were followed by George Breece and two speakers from the military – LTG Mullholland and the Pope Army Airfield Commander. We also had a surprise speaker – LTG Helmick taped a message to our Army spouses. I approached LTG Mulholland and he remembered me from my work at USASOC as an intern and gave me a coin. I was so totally blown away by his kindness and down-to-earth personality. I also met Mrs. Mulholland and she was super sweet as well. That was my first time actually meeting and talking to her in person. I also saw Melissa Helmick and Theresa Sicinski, who are both also really supportive of spouses.
Around 3 pm we started playing Baby Bingo, which was pretty exciting. Mommies left and right were calling out BINGO, including one of the mommies at my table. About 20 gift bags later, we were back to calling out raffle tickets. As I walked back and forth to make sure all of my mommies were ok, I sensed they were most excited about the car raffle.
Right in the middle of all of this there was a surprise announcement. They suddenly asked all of the ladies at table 20 – one of my tables – to stand. A Mr. Breece then announced that since the manager at the Goodyear Tire plant was celebrating 20 years there, he was giving everyone at table 20 gift certificates for 4 brand new tires worth $1000 each. Talk about luck!
Before too long, the winner of the main giveaway – a new 2011 Chevy Cruze, courtesy of the Raleigh Area Chevy Dealers and Mike Lallier of Reed-Lallier Chevrolet – was finally announced. “And the winner is… Lauren!” She started crying, understandbly, and I was feeling the emotion of the moment too. I could have definitely used a new car free of car payments, but I was just so happy for her.
Before it was all over, yet another surprise was revealed. In a classic “Oprah moment,” the announcer told each of the ladies to look under their seats. Each mommy there then found a numbered card, which corresponded to a storage container out back behind the expo with a unique prize inside for everyone, from baby monitors to infant car seats.