Amy (left) and LeAnn (right) from Operation Shower, with Leah Sicat (center)
A blog post from Carousel Designs’ marketing director, Leah Sicat
Throughout the past couple of weeks, supporting military families has been a hot topic in the media. We’ve seen it discussed on the news, on the radio and even on The View! The revived interest has come about mainly due to a new White House initiative called Joining Forces, which was officially launched by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden on April 12th. According to the press release, the initiative aims to educate, challenge, and spark action from all sectors of our society to ensure military families have the support they have earned.
The unofficial motto of Joining Forces is “Everyone can do something.” I just love this slogan because it’s so true. The smallest actions, from sending a care package to a deployed soldier to sending a note of thanks, can mean so much. It’s great to see so many people getting involved and taking action to make sure that military families have the support and resources they need and ultimately let them know that we appreciate their service to our country.
Dr. Jill Biden, Martha Stewart, and First Lady Michelle Obama greet the moms during Operation Shower’s “Red, White and Coo” baby shower at Camp Lejeune, NC
I recently had the privilege of representing Carousel Designs at an amazing event held in support of military families – Operation Shower’s “Red, White and Coo” baby shower at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. You might have heard about this event, which honored 40 expecting Marine Corps spouses, because we had a few special guests drop by … none other than Mrs. Obama, Dr. Biden and Martha Stewart! Obviously, the VIP visit put this event in the media spotlight and made it incredibly memorable for all of us in attendance.
But it was a truly unforgettable day for so many other reasons. First, we had the opportunity to donate Carousel Designs products to these deserving moms. And yes, I got to share an extraordinary moment with all of them when I announced that every mom in attendance was receiving a $400 gift certificate to use on a custom crib bedding set or any Carousel Designs product of their choice.
I also had the opportunity to tell these amazing Marine Corps moms exactly why supporting military families is so important to us. And it’s impossible to explain without getting a little personal.
Leah and Allan Sicat as cadets at West Point, 1998
Our company story is pretty unique in the baby bedding industry because a) our owners are men (gasp!) and b) they happen to be West Point classmates and former Army officers. This is so NOT your typical baby bedding business profile! Following their graduation from West Point in 1998, Jonathan Hartley (Carousel Designs CEO) and Allan Sicat (Carousel Designs president) both served on active duty in the Army. During Jonathan’s time in the service, he was a member of the Army’s World Class Athlete Program, playing team handball for the U.S. National team. Allan was lucky enough to meet his future wife at West Point (me!), and we married soon after graduation, serving together on active duty for five years. During our time in the Army we were both stationed in Virginia and Korea with a brief deployment to Egypt in between.
Carousel Designs is also a family business with a history of military service. The company was started more than 23 years ago by Jonathan’s mom and his dad … who happens to be a 1964 West Point graduate and Vietnam veteran.
We each have siblings currently serving on active duty. Jonathan’s older brother recently returned from Iraq, my brother-in-law will be leaving for Afghanistan soon, and my brother will be deploying this summer – for a location and mission he can’t talk to us about! I admit to getting a little choked up when I think about how my five month old niece will be walking and talking the next time she sees her dad, or how my brother will miss the birth of his son this August.
Jonathan Hartley and family at West Point graduation, 1998
You see, we feel pretty strongly about supporting military families because they are our family.
So there you have it … a slightly complicated view of the Carousel Designs family tree, but one that hopefully helps explain why the mission of wonderful non-profits like Operation Shower and important initiatives like Joining Forces are so near and dear to our hearts.
I know that military spouses don’t think of their lifestyle as a sacrifice. To them, their deployed loved one is simply doing his or her job. The departures, the homecomings and the long time away in between are “part of the deal” – though never easy. This acceptance, to me, is amazing and speaks to the character of the incredible individuals and family members who make up our armed forces. They display a resilience that is remarkable. They deserve our appreciation and support given in spades.
You don’t need to be a retailer, or a politician, or in a position to donate lots of money to support this cause. That’s what’s beautiful about the Joining Forces initiative … it highlights the fact that everyone can do something. Go to the web site (www.whitehouse.gov/joiningforces) and enter your zip code to find opportunities to support military families in your local area.
All of us at Carousel Designs sincerely appreciate the sacrifices made by our service members and their families. We are teaming up with Operation Shower to sponsor future events this year and we simply couldn’t be more thrilled to do so.
Because for the Carousel Designs family, supporting military families is more than a passion – it’s personal.