Michesella Ory already had three kids and wasn't expecting another. So when she became pregnant again, she and her husband, an electrician at Travis Air Force Base, had already gotten rid of all of their baby supplies.
The baby shower she planned about four weeks ago, was canceled when she went into labor on the same day.
That's when Fremont Junior Girl Scout Troop 32271 stepped in. With the help of Operation Showers of Appreciation, a nonprofit that helps military families expecting new babies, the five girls in the troop organized a baby shower for 11 families that took place Saturday at Fremont's St. Joseph Catholic Church.
The auditorium was packed with baby bottles, toys, diapers, car seats, onesies, books and more. All told, the girls collected donations equivalent to about $400 worth of goods for each family, well beyond their expectations, said troop parent leader Adriana Cole.
"Look at all this stuff," Cole said. "The goal was to make sure every family had a car seat and some goodies and we were able to do that times four, in my opinion."
The project started in November as a way for the girls to earn the Girl Scout Bronze Star award, the highest honor given to scouts in the fourth and fifth grades. They were looking to help babies or children and were given the idea of organizing the baby shower after Cole read an article about Showers of Appreciation in People Magazine.
The troop began at St. Joseph
The scouts announced the project at the church, put a notice in the St. Joseph school bulletin where most of the girls attend school, and wrote a donation request letter given to friends and relatives. Cole said her co-workers donated about $1,000 in cash and diapers based on the letter the girls wrote.
In January, the girls came upon the hardest part of the project — asking businesses for donations. Despite many rejections, they were successful, with food and some items donated and thank-yous going out to about two dozen sponsors posted on a wall.
"It was a lot of work but it came out to be really successful," said scout Natalie Rogers, of Brentwood. "It was fun and we got to do it altogether and that was even better."
The other scouts are Kylie Cole, Amanda Teano and McKenna Conners, all of Fremont, and Camille Rodriguez, of Union City. All are fifth-graders who have been troop members since they were in kindergarten.
Deborah Burrow, a contractor who does family assistance for the National Guard, passed along an Operation Showers wish list for the scouts and recruited the families from Pleasanton, Fresno, Monterey, Modesto, Tracy, Hayward and Walnut Creek. She said such events typically are held in San Diego and that Saturday's was the first in Northern California.
Walnut Creek resident Olivia Currie's husband is a supply sergeant in the National Guard, and she expects him to deploy to the Middle East in January. She's now pregnant with a girl and was happy to be receiving some "girl stuff."
"I got a double stroller," said Currie, holding her infant son. "I didn't know how I was going to afford one and now I have one."
Ory is still pregnant, as her doctors stopped the birth because it came about a month early.
"I love it because this was an unexpected child," she said. "To be able to find someone to help out when I have three other kids, it's nice for them to do this for us. ... It's a life saver."