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Moms-To-Be Celebration showers military members, spouses

Attendees at the Pennsylvania March of Dime’s Moms-To-Be Celebration on March 19, 2016 gather at the close for a group photo. The event, held at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Valley Forge, Pa. showered more than 40 expecting military women or military spouses with gifts and provided them with information on benefits available to them. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

Attendees at the Pennsylvania March of Dime’s Moms-To-Be Celebration on March 19, 2016 gather at the close for a group photo. The event, held at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Valley Forge, Pa. showered more than 40 expecting military women or military spouses with gifts and provided them with information on benefits available to them. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

On March 15, 2016, students and faculty from the A.C.H.I.E.V.E. young adult special needs education program in Council Rock School District, Newtown, Pa. stand by baby shower gifts bound for the upcoming Moms-To-Be Celebration. The gift bags, brimming with stuffed animals and small hygiene items were a hit at the celebration in Valley Forge, Pa. on March 19. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

On March 15, 2016, students and faculty from the A.C.H.I.E.V.E. young adult special needs education program in Council Rock School District, Newtown, Pa. stand by baby shower gifts bound for the upcoming Moms-To-Be Celebration. The gift bags, brimming with stuffed animals and small hygiene items were a hit at the celebration in Valley Forge, Pa. on March 19. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

Col. Howard Eissler, commander of the Pennsylvania Air Nation Guard’s 111th Attack Wing at the Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., addresses an assembly of expecting military women or military spouses during the Pennsylvania March of Dime’s Moms-To-Be Celebration on March 19, 2016 held at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Valley Forge, Pa. Eissler highlighted the benefits available to military members and their spouses via the Wing’s Airman and Family Readiness organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

Col. Howard Eissler, commander of the Pennsylvania Air Nation Guard’s 111th Attack Wing at the Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., addresses an assembly of expecting military women or military spouses during the Pennsylvania March of Dime’s Moms-To-Be Celebration on March 19, 2016 held at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Valley Forge, Pa. Eissler highlighted the benefits available to military members and their spouses via the Wing’s Airman and Family Readiness organization. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Christopher Botzum)

HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- More than 40 expecting military women or military spouses were recognized during a Moms-To-Be Celebration held at the Valley Forge Casino Resort in Valley Forge on March 19.

The program, initially started as an educational gathering, is sponsored by the March of Dimes of Pennsylvania and funded here primarily by the Pennsylvania Free Masons and Philips, Inc.

Michelle Durham, anchor with KYW News Radio in Philadelphia, was featured as the master of ceremonies during the luncheon as gifts, estimated at more than $1,700 per person, were bestowed on the mothers to be and their spouses. Gifts included stroller systems, toddler car seats and a mountain of baby care essentials.

"This is our 26th Moms-To-Be Celebration, but the first time we've incorporated active and reserve components from both Pennsylvania and New Jersey," said retired Air Force Col. Harris Brooks, trustee with the March of Dimes and member of the Masonic Brotherhood Lodge 126 in Philadelphia. "The Masons formed a partnership with the March of Dimes baby showers program about four and a half years ago. We have people here from all across the state [of Pennsylvania].

Samantha Mullen along with her husband of nearly 3 years, Tech. Sgt. Shawn Carr-Mullen, a combat arms instructor with the 111ATKW here and civilian Horsham Police Officer are expecting twins.

"I can't believe it," said Samantha as she was brought to tears by the generosity. "I don't know how we'll get this home."

Only moments earlier, Brooks interrupted the program to announce that women expecting twins would be given two of everything.

Deployments can be agonizing on the military family. It's those who remain at home that are the family bedrock said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Jay Barry, guest speaker and former 193rd Airlift Wing vice-commander at the then named Willow Grove Air Reserve Station here.

He said that being a mother is a true gift.

"This is going to be a life-changing event for you - for the positive," said Col. Howard Eissler, commander of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard's 111th Attack Wing here. "Events like this help us to remain a strong unit by helping our families. With our Airman and Family Readiness Office, we have many resources here to help you. Don't ever be afraid to ask for our help."

Expectant mother Melody Davis and her husband, Tech. Sgt. James Davis, 270th Engineering Installation Squadron NCO in charge vehicle maintenance here are two-time parents already, but first time attendees to this event.

"It was a great event, said James. "I never knew just how much the March of Dimes and the Masons did for the community and military until coming today." 

First time mother to be, Laurel Fletcher and her husband, Senior Airman Patrick Fletcher, air transportation technician with the 171st Air Refueling Wing in Pittsburgh made the long trek from the western part of the state to attend.

"This is simply incredible," said Laurel. "I had no idea what to expect - then all this!" 

But sometimes, it's the small things that mean the very most.

Students and faculty with the Achieving Confidence, Happiness, Independence, Education and Vocational Training through Experiences program, an education program for young adults with special needs located in the Council Rock School District, Newtown, Pennsylvania, heard about the upcoming event several weeks ago and wanted to help.

A.C.H.I.E.V.E. student Robbie Ezzl, proud of his contributions in building the small gift bags with stuffed animals and small hygiene items for the expecting mothers, was ecstatic knowing that his handy work would soon be in the hands of newborn babies.

That feeling of delight seemed to be shared among all participants of the day's event.

With a smile, Brooks said, "What we noticed in Pennsylvania, is that the Air force is much better at making babies than the Army. There's always a disproportionate number of Air Force moms at these events."