“True charity requires courage. Let us overcome the fear of getting our hands dirty to help those in need.”
. . . Pope Francis I
Here is a brief overview of some of Council 81’s charitable activities over the past few years.
Veteran Support Alliance operates from Marlborough, and serves veterans throughout eastern Massachusetts. Program director Julie Ciolino started the organization (originally called The Imagine Project, Inc.) after working in a nursing home and coming into contact with veterans who found the transition to civilian life difficult. Since 2010, VSA has helped dozens of local veterans find housing, furniture, clothing and all kinds of support. Council #81 is proud to have partnered with VSA in several undertakings by providing volunteer labor, especially moving their milestone 70th homeless veteran — and his family — into a new home. Read what the Community Advocate had to say about Veteran Support Alliance.
The Knights of Columbus developed the annual Coats for Kids campaign in 2009, and since then has delivered nearly 400,000 new winter coats to boys and girls in low-income families throughout the U.S. and Canada. Through the buying power of our Supreme Council, we are able to obtain good quality new winter coats for about $20 each, and distribute them in our community to kids who need them. Last year, Council #81 provided about 5 dozen new winter coats to kids in our area. It makes us feel warm to help these kids stay warm. “I was cold, and you clothed me.” Mt. 25:36.
In 2003 the Knights of Columbus joined the Global Wheelchair Mission and delivered 2,000 new wheelchairs which were distributed throughout Afghanistan. Since then, the Knights have distributed more than 57,000 wheelchairs in Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jordan, Mexico, Morocco, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Poland, the United States, Canada and Vietnam. In many cases, we have brought mobility to people who lacked it. In Massachusetts last year, the Knights delivered dozens of top-quality wheelchairs to the V.A. hospital in West Roxbury; and Council #81 delivered three of the signature yellow wheelchairs to churches in Marlborough.
Twice each year for more than 25 years Knights from Council #81 have gone to the Adolescent Psychiatric Unit at Westborough State Hospital (now relocated in Worcester) and spent some time with the young adults there. In the summer, we put on an outdoor cookout – although “outdoor” means we are still inside the barbed wire enclosure. In the winter, we return to host a Christmas party with sing-alongs, cake and drinks, and gifts. The staff polls the patients for their needs and wish-lists, and our Knights take to the malls and shop for gifts for 25-40 patients each year. These are kids in the worst of their times. They are often court-committed, most have no health insurance for coverage in private facilities, and many have little or no family or visitors. Just sitting and talking with them and spending a little time is sometimes the greatest gift we can give. The Knights are sometimes their only visitors in weeks or months. This is a big undertaking and we can’t claim full credit for it. We divvy up the work load with brother Knights from Council #85 in Westborough and Council #5724 in Northborough. “I was in prison and you visited me.” Mt. 25:36.
You have probably noticed our Knights outside your church or local stores each year with yellow aprons selling Tootsie Rolls and collecting donations in cardboard cans. It’s a highly visible campaign but the purpose is not widely understood. All across the country we do this to raise funds for organizations that serve intellectually disabled individuals. Last year, in Massachusetts alone, more than $150,000 was raised and distributed to organizations like Special Olympics, headquartered in Marlborough. “I was sick, and you comforted me.” Mt. 25:36.
Special Olympics transforms lives through the joy of sport, empowering athletes to shatter stereotypes and exceed their personal bests on the playing field and in life. The Knights of Columbus proudly supports their efforts through the People With Intellectual Disabilities Campaign. Marlborough is home to the Massachusetts state headquarters of Special Olympics, and this year Council #81 is pleased to help them recognize their own special 50th anniversary at our 125th Anniversary Gala Celebration in September where one-third of our proceeds will go to Special Olympics.
And lots of others.
In the past year we have also supported these local organizations with cash or volunteer service:
- Marlborough Youth Baseball
- Marlborough High School – football trophies
- Marlborough High School Booster Club
- Marlborough Girl’s Softball
- Marlborough Youth Basketball
- Triboro Youth Hockey
- Marlborough Food Pantry – Easter Hams
- Edith Nourse Rogers Veteran’s Hospital, Bedford
and in conjunction with our State Council, we raised funds to support:
- State-wide scholarships to Catholic Colleges
- Blood drives
- “Wreaths Across America” program (placing thousands of wreaths on the graves of America’s heroes in Veterans’ Cemeteries in conjunction with the VFW and other veteran’s organizations)
- The Ultrasound Initiative (providing Ultrasound machines to free Obstetric Clinics)
The list goes on.
Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and risk getting your hands dirty once in a while to help us? Then click here to Become a Knight. Or perhaps you would like to help us with a donation by clicking the “Donate” button below. Every little bit helps.