Knights provide cribs via ‘Project Manger’

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In the fall of 2009, Dolores Wisecarver, director of A Woman's Choice crisis pregnancy center in Falls Church, published a request for assistance in buying 75 cribs in the Holy Spirit Church bulletin. Holy Spirit Council 11922 of the Knights of Columbus wanted to help, so Knight Denny d'Alelio, council chancellor, went to Wisecarver to gather information.

Wisecarver told d'Alelio that a woman had come to A Woman's Choice having had an abortion. When asked why, the woman said, "Because I don't even have a crib for the baby I already have."

The council decided to take action. A pro-life program called "Project Manger" was born with the goal of making sure that no child is ever aborted for the lack of a bed.

With the help of the council and parish community that first year, the Project Manger team collected enough money to buy 75 cribs, mattresses, and the required sheets and baby blankets. Each crib was assembled and delivered by teams of Knights.

By the second year, the waiting list for cribs grew to more than 150 women. The need has increased every year. In 2011, Project Manger expanded to Springfield Council 6153, Father Sikora Council 7922, St. Mary of Sorrow Council 8600 and St. John Bosco Council 12846. The resulting increase in financial donations allowed Project Manger to deliver its 500th crib last year.

Project Manger also distributed cribs to other members of the Pregnancy Support Network of Northern Virginia that, after learning about the program's success, requested an additional 50 cribs. Project Manger now supports four crisis pregnancy centers throughout Northern Virginia. The additional recipients this year are AAA Women for Choice in Manassas, Assist Pregnancy Center in Annandale and Hope in Northern Virginia in Falls Church.

This expansion brought the 2013 total to 225 cribs. Twenty-five additional cribs are in reserve. While several crib manufacturers have been used, the partnership and support from Colgate Mattress Atlantic Corporation has been key to the project's success.

In June, Project Manger delivered more than 75 new cribs, mattresses and linens to pregnant women in crisis who could not afford to provide a bed for their newborns. The remaining 150 cribs will be delivered directly to the recipients throughout the rest of the year.

The delivery operation, organized by d'Alelio, is the key to the project's success. This year, more than three dozen Knights and their families drove more than 600 miles over the course of six hours to deliver the cribs.

"I can see all the people working together to deliver the cribs to the expectant mothers," said Grand Knight Bill Church of the St. Bernadette Council in Springfield. "It's a good feeling inside once we do that."

"This is the fourth year that I've helped deliver cribs," said Knight Tom Kennedy of the Holy Spirit Council. "It is a very personally rewarding event."

"It's not just another fundraiser or charity function for the Knights that help on delivery day," added d'Alelio. "They tell me time and time again how much it affects them and gets them excited about the project."

"This year, we had a waiting list of 104 babies without beds, including a set of twins, all of whom were sleeping on old mattresses with their mothers, or other makeshift arrangements," said Wisecarver. "We did have one client three years ago whose baby tragically died of suffocation while sleeping in a bed with her parents. So you can see how important this is for us."

All this work was born of the Knights' strong pro-life mission and their call to Christian charity.

"This week a young woman from the Springfield area who had been very abortion-minded was leaving her church," Wisecarver said. "She just happened to meet one of our clients who had been a crib recipient. Our client brought her to our office assuring her that we would help her and her baby. We will never fully comprehend the ripple effect of this important mission. This project has acted as a catalyst in restoring the faith of many of the crib recipients."

"We have taken a step for the right to life that is very tangible," added d'Alelio.

Crib recipient Maria Lopez told one member of the delivery team: "I could not be more grateful to the Knights for everything. My baby is going to have a place to sleep now because of you."

Former Virginia state deputy Tom Harger said that it is inspiring to be part of Project Manger.

"We in the Knights are very pro-life, and this, along with the purchase of ultrasound machines for pregnancy centers, is at the very heart of that," Harger said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2013