Saint Joseph School student Melani Haney’s birthday party at Love Your Selfie in Winchester, Va., was all about loving others. 

Instead of gifts for her birthday, Melani requested donations for Mary’s Refuge, a maternity home expected to open in September. The former convent at 111 E. Stephen St. in Martinsburg is being transformed into a safe space for pregnant women in crisis to work toward self-sufficiency.

To her June 12 celebration, the rising third-grader asked her classmates and other friends to bring items such as small new toys for babies; small hairbrush and aspirator sets; play mats for tummy time; Boppy pillows and covers; and nursing aids such as soothing cream, bra pads and nursing camisoles.

Melani and her family heard about Mary’s Refuge during a presentation at St. Leo Catholic Church in Inwood, W.Va., which they attend. Her mother, Tiffani, said they later had a conversation about how many toys Melani has and how many other children aren’t as fortunate.

The Inwood family decided that giving things to moms who want to keep their babies was a perfect way to celebrate Melani’s eight years of life. 

For more information about Mary’s Refuge, go to

To read and hear the story that aired June 14 on WDVM, tune in here: