Bob Maher, Chairman
The ways in which Virginia Knights of Columbus serve the communities in which they live are extremely varied. They include everything from sponsoring blood drives to programs that benefit the elderly or the intellectually handicapped, to programs like Coats for Kids and Food for Families, which help those in financial need.
Knights emerge from a very cool dip in the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach last February, where they raised more than $54,000 for Special Olympics in the "Polar Plunge."
Virginia Knights are heavily involved in programs for the intellectually handicapped, providing both financial and volunteer support for Special Olympics, as well as more general support through KOVAR, a special Virginia Knights of Columbus charity which donates more than half a million dollars a year to help those with intellectual disabilities. Much of the money raised for KOVAR comes through the familiar "Tootsie Roll Drives" each year, and goes to fund training programs, interest free loans to assist in the purchase of group homes, and purchase of vehicles to transport persons with intellectual disabilities.
In addition, KOVAR is a Platinum Sponsor of the Virginia Special Olympics, donating more than $50,000 each year.
In additional to these statewide efforts, individual councils also tackle projects for those with intellectual disabilities, such as the 2013 Community Activity Award winner, St. Mary of Sorrows Council 8600, which donates $10,000 each year to group homes.
Every year, more than half a million children in the United States and Canada enter critical care facilities, and countless additional children in crisis as they experience illness, trauma and sometimes fatal illnesses. Knights of Columbus councils in Virginia support the Courage Lion Program at the 14 locations in the state where the program helps children at hospitals and hospices.
The Courage Lion Program is a gift from the heart of the community. A $300 gift will supply one Duffy the Courage Lion each month for 12 months. Each child receives a kit which includes Duffy, a CD and a book.
Over 500,000 thousand children enter critical care facilities every in in the United States and Canada. Uncertainty, fear, pain and insecurity befall every one of them. You are their champions. Duffy the Courage Lion is now in 15 hospitals or hospices in Virginia. A council can sponsor one Duffy, book, and cd each month for a year at a cost of $300.00. Duffy is allowed to stay with the child as they go through medical testing and can help to ease the fears of the child. For forms and more info go to www.Courage Lion.org. If a council would like a presentation at a meeting contact me and we can make arrangements. Again sponsoring Duffy will give the council one line entry under community.
Internationally, the Knights of Columbus has been a partner of the Global Wheelchair Mission (formerly the Wheelchair Foundation) since 2003, and has donated more than 40,000 wheelchairs to disabled people all over the world: Afghanistan, Guatemala, Mexico, Vietnam, the Holy Land, Haiti, Ethiopia and elsewhere.
We have arranged with the American/global wheelchair mission to work on a container to be sent to Virginia for distribution at a cost of $16,500 dollars. This equates to 110 councils sponsoring 1 wheelchair at $150.00 dollars. The wheelchairs are worth $500.00. By sponsoring a wheelchair the councils will be providing the gift of mobility to people who cannot afford or obtain a wheelchair. To be a sponsor go to the Global Wheelchair Mission website. You will see where it says Knights of Columbus, click on that. At the bottom it will say donate, when you click on the form will come up that you can print out and fill in to mail with your check or do it online with a credit card. Remember by sponsoring just one wheelchair the council gets a line entry on the SP7 under community. When sponsoring a wheelchair please contact me and let me know whether your council will give out the wheelchair or if you want the state council to do it. The faster we can raise the money the faster we can give the gift of mobility.