Garrett Merz has given up his hair for Lent this year.
The Aquinas High School freshman volunteered to shave his head in the school’s cafeteria on Ash Wednesday.
This was no ordinary haircut.
“This is a stand against abortion,” said Garrett, 14, of Augusta. “We believe it’s wrong and wanted to do something.”
Several students, a teacher and a parent volunteered to shave their heads or cut their hair at the first Shave ’em to Save ’em, which raised money for an anti-abortion pregnancy center.
Nicholas Scicchitano, who created the event with Merz, said he wasn’t sure how much they had collected in support of the Augusta Care Pregnancy Center, but added that the money wasn’t the point.
“Every time I see my bald head, it’ll be a constant reminder to pray for unborn children,” said Nicholas, 14, of North Augusta.
The idea for the event was sparked after January’s March for Life in Washington, D.C.
Nearly 40 students from Aquinas, a private Catholic school, traveled to Washington to participate.
Campus minister Michael Lammers challenged each of them to follow through with ideas to support the cause after the march ended.
“They came to me and said, ‘We want to do this,’ ” Lammers said. “They had this desire to make an impact. I asked them, ‘Why? Why shave your heads?’ And I could tell from their answers that it would be a sacrifice for them, which is what Lent is all about.”
Lent is the 40-day church season in preparation for Easter, when Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a solemn time of prayer, fasting and repentance.
“We mirror the sacrifice of Jesus Christ,” Nicholas said. “It’s a huge sacrifice, especially in high school, when people think looks are everything.”
Jessica Johnson, 14, of Aiken, was one of three girls to participate. They all opted to cut their hair, not shave their heads.
“My parents think it’s kind of crazy, but they support me,” said Jessica, who shed nearly 10 inches.
Lammers said the participants checked with their parents before going through with their plan.
Nicholas’ father, Bill, not only gave permission, but also decided to shave his head along with his three boys, who participated.
“It’s a very good cause,” he said. “If they can walk the walk, so can I.”