Kelley Calmes was at the hobby shop where she worked in Junction City, Kansas, when newly enlisted Army service member Carroll Calmes walked through the door and the two struck up a conversation.
“It feels like so long ago,” Kelley said, with a laugh. “We were so young.”
In April, the couple celebrated 12 years together, during which time they’ve welcomed four children, moved to three different duty stations and coped with two deployments for Carroll—one to Iraq from 2009-2010 and one to Afghanistan in 2012-2013. Carroll is now a sergeant and the family is stationed at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In 2020, with baby No. 4 on the way, Kelley’s friend told her about an upcoming Operation Homefront Star-Spangled Babies Shower being held for Colorado Springs area military families and expectant parents. With three kids ages 11, nine, and four, Kelley and Carroll were eager to take part in the program.
Kelley was among 100 moms and expectant parents served at the September 2020, event. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, volunteers and staff organized a drive-thru event where families picked up the varied offerings that included diapers, wipes, toys, blankets, and other baby items. The kit also included gift cards that came in handy since baby Brinlei was born three weeks earlier than expected.
Kelley was especially pleased with the handmade crocheted hats and blanket since during the two days she was in the hospital the weather changed from balmy shorts-wearing weather to much colder temperatures.
“The handmade items were great because they added a personal touch,” she said.
Kelley added that she is grateful to donors who want to support military families as well as the service member.
“It definitely makes us feel visible,” she said. “And it is definitely nice, especially that the kids are recognized because they go through quite a bit with moving and changing homes and schools and away from what they are accustomed to.”
Our Recurring Family Support programs, like Star-Spangled Babies, are one of the many ways Operation Homefront helps our military families so they can start strong and stay strong throughout the year.
Operation Homefront launched ‘Start Strong, Stay Strong,’ a national brand campaign in March 2021. The initiative brings much-needed attention to the dedicated service of our military families and the support that Americans can provide to build the stability, connections and comfort these families deserve to start strong in their communities and stay strong throughout their journeys. #StartStrongStayStrong. Find out more at operationhomefront.org/start-strong-stay-strong.