GREEN BAY—The Johnsonville Tailgate Village buzzed with the sound of volunteers hard at work. The work—filling packages with diapers, toys, hand-sewn onesies and so much more for expectant military families with a deployed parent.
For the ninth year, "Ladies of Lambeau," an inclusive group of women connected to the Packers organization, gathered to make a difference in the community.
Led by Laurie Murphy, wife of Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, the "Ladies of Lambeau" partnered with "Operation Shower" and assembled 200 care packages for 196 moms-to-be. Disposable diapers were also collected and donated to Paul's Pantry for those in need.
"I just want to thank all of the volunteers, we've had so many volunteers over the years," Laurie Murphy said. "Everyone here has some contribution to the Packers and it's so much fun…we're all so blessed."
Founded in 2007, "Operation Shower" started with a group of people who decided that more should be done to acknowledge and provide for women and moms of the military. By 2019, they'd hosted showers for thousands of military families and were ready to add to that total on Thursday night.
The night was kicked off by Major General Marsha Anderson, the first African-American woman to become a major general in the United States Army Reserve. Her voice captivated the room as she spoke of the life-changing impact that Operation Shower has on military families. She shared that an estimated 20,000-30,000 military families struggle with food insecurity, so providing essential items for their newborn removes an unimaginable weight from their shoulders.
Ginger Shockley, the director of program outreach for "Operation Shower", addressed the women with instructions on how to make a "baby shower in a box". Included in the box were items like teddy bears, blankets, bottles, pacifiers and so much more. Women were able to "shop for their moms" and find personalized items to include in the package like nail polish, face masks, and gift cards.
Membership of "Ladies of Lambeau" is wide-ranging—participants include employees and spouses of players, coaches and board members.
"Everyone is together, we get to partake in a wonderful charity, and afterwards it's like fellowship," said Diana Ball, wife of Packers executive vice president/director of football operations Russ Ball. "The ladies really like it because it gives you a way to give back to the community."
'Ladies of Lambeau' gathered for the annual community event in the Johnsonville Tailgate Village to assemble 'baby showers in a box' to expectant military families with a deployed parent.
Since its birth in 2011, "Ladies of Lambeau" has directed its efforts at a different cause every year.
- In 2011, food was packaged for Stop Hunger Now, which distributed it to partner schools around the world to feed starving children.
- The second year of the program led to the making of several hundred fleece blankets for various local nursing homes. Members of "Ladies of Lambeau" visited with seniors in the community and presented them the blankets.
- The group filled hundreds of backpacks with supplies in Year 3. Backpacks were given to families who were leaving domestic abuse shelters and starting fresh lives.
- Stop Hunger Now again received food in 2014. Between the efforts of '11 and '14, "Ladies of Lambeau" has donated over 100,000 meals to children throughout the world.
- The fifth year of the program led to the build of an entire playground at Fireman's Park in Green Bay.
- In 2016, 2,500 backpacks were stuffed to the brim full of hygienic supplies and fun items for charities in Green Bay and Milwaukee.
- Creative minds were put to work in Year 7 as the "Ladies of Lambeau" painted 12 Packers-themed murals for local hospitals and youth community centers.
- Last year, fleece blankets were paired with children's books to be given to local kindergarten and elementary schools.
As each year passes, connections within the group grow stronger.
"These are really unique opportunities to serve," said Molly Crosby, wife of Packers kicker Mason Crosby. "It's a chance to learn about often underrepresented needs."
Every woman in the building had a duty in assembling the care packages on Thursday night, from sewing football patches onto onesies to writing letters for expectant moms. The packages were then boxed up to be sent all across the country.
"This is a chance to be a part of the larger team," said Crosby. "This teaches us to help other people in our communities with needs we may be unaware of otherwise."