Pro-life efforts at RBC serve women, babies

Story by Rose O’Connor | Correspondent

SHOWERS OF DONATIONS • Sister Joanmarie McDonnell and LIFE Club members stand with the many items that were collected for Birthright of Red Bank. LIFE Club stands for Living in Faith Effectively and was the first service-oriented club, aside from student council, in the history of RBC. Courtesy photo

The Red Bank Catholic High School pro-life club, Caseys4life, recently learned a little something about themselves as a school community when they hosted a baby shower in the classroom for Birthright of Red Bank.

“We found out that the baby shower had actually been around for 35 years. It began with eight kids in a homeroom as part of the LIFE Club, which was the only service club at the time,” said Deb Flego, moderator of Caseys4Life.

The Birthright baby shower was instituted by Sisters of Mercy Joanmarie McDonnell and Regina Callahan, who were moderators of the LIFE Club when the high school began collecting items for Birthright.

As stated on its website, “Birthright International believes that it is the right of every pregnant woman to give birth, and the right of every child to be born. Birthright is here to be the friend that a pregnant woman needs as she navigates an unplanned pregnancy, [and] is available to women for as long as they need us. We offer love, friendship, and support to women who are pregnant or think they may be pregnant. Birthright services are always free, non-judgmental and confidential. We can also provide information, referrals, and resources to help the woman help herself. Birthright is unique and available 24/7 through our toll-free helpline.”

Over time, the annual baby shower grew larger and the LIFE Club, which is an acronym for Living in Faith Effectively, joined forces with Caseys4Life and Catholic Athletes for Christ at the school to ensure the shower was a continued success for the local office of Birthright.

“We promised Sister Joanmarie and Sister Regina that we would continue the shower,” Flego explained.

The shower, which began with those eight students 35 years ago, had 100 participants this year. It was held in April.

In addition to the work of Caseys4Life and Catholic Athletes for Christ, the Knit and Crochet for Charity Club made blankets and hats and booties for babies, and the Walking Club donated their bake sale money toward the shower. The shower yielded more than $700 and 1,000 gifts that were donated to Birthright.

“We serve about 1,500 women annually,” said Karen Fitzgerald, director of Birthright of Red Bank.

Birthright of Red Bank has served the community for almost 40 years and has collaborated with the students at RBC for a number of years as well.

“It’s awesome that the Caseys4Life and Catholic Athletes for Christ have stepped up and continued the shower. Because of fundraisers like the baby shower we can continue to offer services to our clients for free,” Fitzgerald said.

RBC and Birthright have developed a relationship of sorts with RBC housing some donations for the organization in the basement of the convent.

Donations for the shower were collected by Caseys4Life and junior Caroline Fortier, who serves on the board of the service club.

“I, along with the board, reached out to friends and fellow club members for any donations possible. I also had the task of setting up the event, and the best part – sorting the baby items. This event helps moms who are unable to give their growing babies many of the material items they may need. This also helps to raise awareness for an issue many people may underestimate,” Fortier said.

“It’s important for us to show that we respect life at all stages,” Flego said of the shower.

One thing that is certain, RBC will continue to support their local chapter of Birthright in the years to come.

“Seeing the overwhelming amounts of donations and generosity that were generated by this event was heartwarming. Knowing that there are many people around me that value the life of unborn children as I do makes all the hard work worth it,” Fortier maintained. Those interested in making a donation to their local Birthright can visit www.birthright.org.

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