Stuffed animals and baby bibs have invaded the National Churchill Museum this month.
From now until Jan. 1, the museum is collecting baby items for Operation Baby Shower. The non-profit organization out of St. Louis coordinates baby showers and "showers in a box" for expectant mothers in military families where a soldier has been deployed or is facing a high-stress situation. Sometimes the military mothers are on active duty themselves.
The museum is currently collecting pictures of military loved ones for its Holiday Honor Tree.
"In conjunction, we wanted to honor the military wives as well," said Liz Murphy, archivist curator at the museum.
It's the second year the museum has had the honor tree, but the first year its taking donations for Operation Baby Shower. The initiative was started by Mandy Plybon, museum education and public programs coordinator.
"We want to honor the sacrifices our military families make, and we encourage local citizens to join in the effort by bringing baby items to the museum," Plybon said in an earlier statement.
Murphy said the museum started a collection box for the baby items Nov. 1. So far, the museum has received a bag full of stuffed animals and a bag of hand-knitted baby bibs.
"This program actually gives tangible things to women ... things they need at the beginning of their children's lives," Murphy said.
She said military wives work hard and go through a lot and this was a way to honor them.
LeAnn Morrissey, who helped found Operation Baby Shower, stated on her Web site that the program "is near and dear to my heart. Throwing a baby shower for these deserving military moms is such an honor. Thoughts of how to make them feel special and appreciated are always at the forefront of what we do."
Murphy said the museum will need volunteers from the community to help organize donated items into baskets or "showers in a box" to send to St. Louis on Jan. 8. She especially encourages the individuals who donate to help out with this activity when the time comes. Baby items needed for the collection include: stuffed animals, infant toys, rattles, teething rings, board books, baby CDs, baby DVDs, towels, washcloths and other bath items.
To find out more about donating for Operation Baby Shower or volunteering, call the museum at (573) 592-5369.