Baby show planned to help expectant wives of deployed airmen

The (Sumter) ItemOctober 8, 2013 

Baby shoes

RUTH BLACK

— It’s tough being the wife of a deployed airman or soldier. It’s even tougher when you’re expecting a baby.

“I’d been through deployment, but this time I was pregnant,” said Melissa Revel, now a mother of three and wife of Maj. Richard Revel. “I decided I was not going to sit here and get depressed. I was going to do something positive.”

So in April, she threw a baby shower for other women whose husbands were deployed or on temporary duty assignment. She’s got another celebration planned from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Oct. 17 at the Quality Inn on Broad Street.

She welcomes donations.

“I know a lot of churches do crochet or knit items, and handmade stuff is so cool,” Revel said. “I’ve even had military wives who make cloth diapers or headbands. It helps everybody.”

She has also secured donations, such as organic crib mattresses, from companies around the world.

“It’s the best of the best,” Revel said. “I tried to get companies you can’t get at (big box stores). I told them, ‘Send it to me, and I’ll advertise for you.’ Right now with the way things are, though, it’s hard for companies to afford to help you.”

The larger items, such as car seats and strollers, she raffles off.

“Everything people donated to help her put it on was really helpful stuff,” said Julie Prillerman, who participated in the April shower while expecting her fourth child.

She was so inspired by the experience that Prillerman decided to become one of the five volunteers helping Revel with the upcoming party.

“It’s a great program, and I’m excited to volunteer,” Prillerman said. “It helped me out, and I wanted to be able to return the favor, to help others out in the same way they helped me.”

While presents are nice, the main thing is coming together.

“You probably don’t have a lot of friends where you are, and you’re living so far away from home,” Revel said. “They are each other’s network. I already have had an email that said, ‘I feel like I have a new best friend now.’ One is Air Force, and the other is Army. They would never have met.”

She worked with Michelle Vance, the new parent support program nurse at Shaw Air Force Base, to get the invitation lists together.

“It’s really hard going through that process when you feel alone,” Vance said. “This is a wonderful way of saying, ‘We appreciate what you do, and we just want you to know you’re not in this boat alone.’ They’re going through similar difficulties and challenges, and it’s a good way to hook up with those people.”

Thirteen women are lined up for this month’s event. Some locals who will be contributing to this shower include Sumter High School’s JROTC and Sumter singer Anne Galloway.

Revel is already planning another shower for February.

“Between Third Army and Shaw Air Force, this is one of the most deployable bases,” she said. “Without the community, we can’t do it. I really, truly believe that this base really does need it.”

When it’s time for her to move on from Shaw, Revel said she hopes this project will continue.

“I’m leaving it in the hands of one of my volunteers,” she said. “I hope to continue the outreach wherever I’m at. Hopefully, it will go nationwide.”

For more information or to donate, contact Revel by visiting facebook.com/OperationMilitaryBaby.

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