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Students for Life to the rescue

August 3, 2009 - Pregnancy resource centers are places for pregnant women to seek help. They offer a wide range of support services for women in their hours of need, but they often depend heavily on the generosity of volunteers to help them provide those services.

When Jackson Right to Life found out two of their local centers were in dire need of diapers, they decided they needed to help. It was their students for life group though that got the show on the road; three vans, to be precise.

"I think maybe they would have hoped for 25 to 50 boxes of diapers. Our whole boardroom was filled with diapers," Kathy Potts, president of Jackson Right to Life said.

Kathy said they first heard by e-mail that Birthline of Jackson and Center for Women Pregnancy Counseling Services needed diapers. Their students for life group volunteered at their meeting to handle the diaper drive. They delivered more than 10,000 diapers after the drive was finished.

Andrea Berkemeier, a junior at Jackson Lumen Christi High School and vice president of Jackson Students for Life, headed the drive. They collected more than 9,600 diapers from her fellow Lumen Christi students, enough to put a baby in diapers for three years. Andrea said she was completely surprised by their success. She said she expected diaper donations would be harder to get than canned food, since students would have to buy the expensive diapers specifically for the drive.

"I didn't think many people would do it," Andrea said. "We had three vans, two were completely full."

For motivation, the group talked the school principal into allowing participants a "dress-down day," where they didn't have to wear school uniforms. Andrea said they offered additional incentives to participants, including donuts for top donors and free Mother's Day cards and car washes for seniors. She said it also helped to have the drive be in appreciation of Mother's Day.

"People aren't going to do it without motivation," Andrea said. "They need to know its a good cause or get something in return. Whenever you get a chance for a dress-down day, everyone really likes it."

Andrea said her motivation worked and the competition was so fierce that they were getting donations that weren't exactly diapers.

"One kid brought in 500, but they weren't diapers; they were Depends," she said. "We had a lot of Depends."

Besides the fulfillment in knowing that the pregnancy resource centers can continue providing diapers to women in need, Andrea said the students also learned some valuable lessons. Several of her fellow students received disapproving stares in store check-out lanes, as well as cases of sticker shock when the diapers were rung up on the cash registers.

"It really opened up the eyes of the kids at school about the sacrifices our parents made for us," she said.

Kathy Potts sent an editorial to the Jackson Citizen Patriot contrasting the students efforts to help mothers in need with Planned Parenthood's use of Mother's Day for fund raising to exploit women. Kathy said they were impressed with the results and the students work-ethic.

"Students are very activity-oriented," she said. "They need a good activity to get involved in."

For information about pregnancy help and a link to a list of pregnancy help and adoption agencies in Michigan, click here.

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