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.
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.
Virginia is now raising funds necessary to obtain a full shipping container of wheelchairs for distribution to the needy in our state, especially disabled veterans and retired clergy and religious. To date, we are two-thirds of the way to our goal, with only 31 councils participating. We are able to obtain he chairs, which are worth $500 each, for just $150, and by donating even one wheelchair, a council fulfills one of the community service requirements for winning the Columbian Award.