Wherever we live, whether it is in Paducah, Lexington, or Ashland, we all have perceptions of “Community”. Community undoubtedly means different things to each of us due to our particular experiences.
Every individual has a voice in shaping the world around him, and everyone can make that voice heard. Your voice is important and you should make it heard in your community. Making a difference in the lives of those with whom we come in contact in business or social environments says, “I care.”
Your community offers limitless opportunities for action. Look for something that is needed and workable in your community. Get your Brother Knights to join the effort. Here are some examples:
- Actively participate in statewide programs. Special emphasis will be placed on the Tootsie Roll Drive in the fall. Participate and get others to help.
- Actively participate in the Special Olympics. Seek out and find ways for your membership to assist.
- Be involved in Education. Good education in these times is an important matter for the children of your community and will help shape the course of their future. Good schools are vital to this concern.
- Find out what your community has in the way of recreational and cultural opportunities. Ask yourself what it lacks. Find out what you can do to help.
- Show pride in your country by displaying the flag proudly and properly.
- Look in the “Surge with Service” booklet from Supreme Council for a whole host of proven ideas and community programs including Habitat for Humanity and Global Wheelchair Mission.
Your boundaries are virtually limitless! Just about everything that your council does can be aimed at your community.
The Knights of Columbus have a long history with Special Olympics dating back to the very first Special Olympics International Games in Chicago in 1968. It is a partnership and a legacy that we are very proud of. The Kentucky State Council continues this partnership in many ways.
Councils across the state volunteer at both local and state Special Olympics competitions, including events like the State Summer Games and State Bowling Tournament, the two largest competitive events of the year.
Councils also help to raise money for Special Olympics Kentucky through fundraising events like the Polar Plunge, Big Brown Truck Pull and UPS Plane Pull. They also hold Council events like our annual Tootsie Roll Drive, which a number of individual Councils designate as donations to local and state Special Olympics programs.
At the end of each fraternal year, the hours that Knights have volunteered in service to Special Olympics are reported to the Supreme Council, which in turn makes a donation to Special Olympics Kentucky that is presented at our annual convention in May.
Food for Families
In these difficult economic times even something as basic as putting food on a table is difficult for some families. The difference between having a nutritious meal and going to bed hungry can be a thin line. You and your brother Knights and families can be that difference and help set the table for people in need by conducting Food for Families programs.
- Contact a local food pantry or soup kitchen to ensure they will be able to receive the food and ask what their needs are. Also, determine if there are specific items that they need.
- Obtain permission to set up the food drive at your parish or local store.
- Display posters around your parish, community, stores. These posters should include the date, time, and location of the drive.
- If you are conducting the event at your parish, hand out flyers to the parishioners as they enter the church and ask your pastor to make an announcement about the initiative, or get permission to have a council officer make an announcement before or after Mass.
- Request that a written announcement be included in the parish bulletin. In the announcement ask parishioners to donate nonperishable food items. These items should be brought to Mass the following weekend (you will need to run the informational part of the event on the first weekend and collect the items on the second weekend).
- Another option that can effectively involve all parishioners is a “40 Cans for Lent” program, where every parishioner contributes one can of food for each day of the Lenten season.
- Pass out flyers to shoppers as they enter the store asking them to purchase extra food and to place it in the collection boxes on their way out of the store.
- When collecting monetary donations, make sure to have a secure receptacle in your collection area for cash or checks.
- Place some items in the collection boxes after setting them up so people can see what types of items are needed. Put a sign on the collection receptacle so people who miss the announcement will know what it is for.
Any council that conducts a Food for Families program, and meets the minimum requirements, will receive full credit for all Columbian Award (SP-7) requirements in the Family Activities category.
Coats for Kids
Distributing coats to needy children not only fills a vital need in the community, it is also an excellent way to build camaraderie among member and prospects. Seeing the joy that getting a new winter coat brings to a child will help prospects to see the Knights of Columbus as an organization they want to be a part of. In the last four years, Knights of Columbus councils have distributed more than 72,000 winter coats to needy children.
- Make Coats for Kids a project for the entire parish community
- Assess the need in the community. Pastors and Catholic school principals can be excellent resources in identifying children who would benefit from this program.
- Determine how much of the need the council can meet. For the 2014-2015 Winter, coats purchased from the Supreme Council will cost $16.25 plus shipping.
- Use council funds or conduct targeted fund raisers to purchase needed coats. Coat dries in the council or parish are great ways to supplement the coats purchased.
- Purchase the coats using the form on www.kofc.org/coats
- Schedule a distribution date, time, and location. Parish halls, Catholic school gyms, or council homes all make good distribution sites.
- Secure manpower. Invite the entire parish community to participate.
- Publicize the distribution among the recipients. Also, advise the media.
Any council that conducts a Coats for Kids program, and meets the minimum requirements, will receive full credit for all Columbian Award (SP-7) requirements in the Youth Activities category.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness one family at a time. The organization assists in providing quality-built, affordable homes to needy families by cooperatively involving the future homeowner with community volunteers and suppliers to build or renovate the home. In the last four years, Knights of Columbus members and their families have contributed nearly 4.3 million hours to Habitat building projects, and donated nearly $2.5 million to those projects. Habitat for Humanity building projects are excellent opportunities to show prospective members what the Knights of Columbus is all about. The steps involved in participating in Habitat for Humanity include:
- Contact the local Habitat for Humanity affiliate in your community. Visit www.habitat.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on your local affiliate. They will be able to brief you on the volunteer opportunities available to council members, prospects, and families.
- Involve the entire parish community in the project. This will increase exposure for the council and the project, and will help volunteers develop the skills to build a home.
- Develop a calendar of Habitat for Humanity build dates, and advise council members and parishioners well in advance so they can participate.
- Make this a family project. Wives and children can help build and enjoy the camaraderie that comes with completed build projects.
- Hold a “Thank You” or “Open House” event for all that participated in the build. Make a presentation of other programs and activities in which the council is involved. Then ask those prospects to join.
Any council that participates in a Habitat for Humanity building project, and meets the minimum requirements, will receive full credit for all Columbian Award (SP-7) requirements in the Community Activities category.
Global Wheelchair Mission
In 2003, the Knights of Columbus teamed up with The Global Wheelchair Mission (www.amwheelchair.org) to help bring wheelchairs to those who lack freedom of mobility.
Since then, Knights in the U.S. and Canada have sponsored the distribution of some 30,000 wheelchairs in Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, the United States, and Vietnam.
The Global Wheelchair Mission purchases wheelchairs in bulk and delivers them by sea containers around the world.
For every donation of 150 received by the Global Wheelchair Mission, It can deliver a brand new wheelchair which would cost over $500 in a medical supply store.
They are shipped by 100 to 280 wheelchair containers directly from the factory to the destination countries at no cost to the recipients.
Councils, assemblies, and circles are encouraged to promote this program to their membership, inviting personal consideration, as well as implementing this as an ongoing charitable event.
Any council that participates in the Global Wheelchair Mission program, and meets the minimum requirements, will receive full credit for all Columbian Award (SP-7) requirements in the Community Activities category.