Local pro-life supporters will have a chance to put their money where their mouths are beginning this week as the Knights of Columbus Seisel Council 1121, Washington, brings the Baby Bottle Brigade to four Catholic parishes in Washington.

A fundraising campaign that will last 40 days (Sept. 26-Nov. 4), the Baby Bottle Brigade involves Knights distributing baby bottles to parishioners and students who belong to St. Francis Borgia, Our Lady of Lourdes, both in Washington, St. Gertrude in Krakow, and St. Ann’s in Clover Bottom.

People will be asked to put financial donations in the bottles — cash, checks or spare change they collect over the 40-day period — and then return them to their church Nov. 4.

A flier inside the bottles will include information about the campaign, as well as a prayer to Mary, “Mother of the Life Within,” that they can say daily during the 40 days.

Initiated by the Knights of Columbus Council at Incarnate Word parish in Chesterfield, the Baby Bottle Brigade’s goal is to reduce and ultimately put a stop to abortions in Missouri.

Knights councils around the state have brought the Baby Bottle Brigade to their parishes to raise funds. Money collected in Washington will be pooled with those funds to purchase pro-life assets and support pro-life activities, said Matt Nowak, chairman of the Washington Baby Bottle Brigade effort.

To show parishioners how the funds raised will be spent, the Washington Knights are bringing to town the Thrive mobile medical center, which offers pregnant women who may be considering abortions free ultrasounds, counseling and resources information about adoption. It will be positioned outside of each of the parishes at one point this weekend for people to tour.

On Saturday, Sept. 29, the mobile medical unit will be stationed outside of St. Gertrude after 4:30 p.m. Mass and St. Ann’s after 7 p.m. Mass.

On Sunday, Sept. 30, it will be at St. Francis Borgia after 7 and 9 a.m. Masses and at Our Lady of Lourdes after 10 a.m. Mass.

Baby bottles will be distributed to parishioners attending all Masses at these four churches this weekend, as well as to students enrolled in the parishes’ schools and PSR programs on Wednesday and Thursday this week.

Students attending St. Francis Borgia Regional High School will have the opportunity to put spare change in a baby bottle stationed in the lunch room during the 40 days.

Some 1,600 baby bottles are being distributed this week, and Nowak is hopeful that each bottle will be returned 40 days later with at least $40 in it.

“That’s only $1 a day,” he said. “And if all of the 1,600 bottles are returned, that’s $64,000.”

Money raised through the Baby Bottle Brigade will be used in three ways, said Bill Gegg, Grand Knight for the Seisel Council.

• To close all abortion centers in the region;

• To staff the Thrive mobile medical unit which is stationed across from Planned Parenthood in St. Louis two days a week; and

• To support the 40 Days for Life program that includes providing sidewalk counselors outside of abortion centers.

“Forty Days for Life has been going on for six years, and it’s the fastest growing grassroots prolife effort in the world,” said Gegg. “Our group participates in the peaceful prayer vigil in St. Louis to shut down Planned Parenthood.”

Gegg noted that last year’s 40 Days for Life campaign “saved” over 500 babies in the St. Louis area.

“Twelve women in one week went into the Thrive unit,” he said. “Having that unit there (outside of Planned Parenthood) has been integral.”

Already funds raised through the Baby Bottle Brigade have been used to purchase an ultrasound machine, which was donated to Thrive of St. Louis to put on its mobile medical unit.

The hope is that enough money can be raised to staff the Thrive unit every day that Planned Parenthood is open, said Gegg.

“Studies have found that over 90 percent of women who have ultrasounds end up keeping their babies,” Gegg noted.

“We want to give pregnant women proper information that this is truly a baby and tell them about alternatives (to abortion) to bring their baby to life,” said Nowak.

To learn more about the Baby Bottle Brigade, people can watch a video posted on YouTube at www.youtube.com/babybottlebrigade.

For more on the 40 Days for Life campaign, people can visit www.coalitionforlifestl.com.