‘Coats for Kids’

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In 2009, the Knights of Columbus began a new program - Coats for Kids - to provide new winter coats to deserving children. It's a cooperative effort between local councils and the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council. Councils raise the money and decide how many children they can provide coats to, then order the coats through the supreme council.

According to the Knights, the program has delivered more than 150,000 coats to children throughout the United States and Canada since its inception.

Knights from the Pope John Paul II Council at Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria joined the program this year, led by Grand Knight Carroll D. Glass.

With the support of Father Leopoldo M. Vives, pastor, the council was able to raise $2,100.

"We support the work of the Knights," said Father Vives.

According to Glass, the council was able to buy 96 winter coats at a cost of $1,760. He said that poor box collections from the parish raised $385. Students and parents at Queen of Apostles School added another $125 to the fund, with the remainder contributed by individual Knights and members of the council's Casey Women's Club. The surplus will be used for next year's event. The buying power of the supreme council keeps the per-coat cost down.

Father Vives said that the coats will be distributed in conjunction with the weekly food pantry distribution to area residents run by the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph at the St. Gabriel Convent under the watchful eye of Sister Delfina Gomez. Father Vives said that the food pantry provides 80-100 bags of groceries to area residents every week, calling it "a continuous miracle."

The first nine coats were delivered to the Knights and brought to the food pantry Jan. 20 by several Knights including: Glass, Past Grand Knight Dennis Brown and Roger Williams. Sisters Eyda Martinez and Delfina were there to accept the coats.

Sister Eyda said that later that morning the clients would come for their weekly food pickup and she would see how many might need coats. The first distribution was scheduled for Jan. 27. They'll continue each week until all coats are distributed. Storage space is limited at the convent, so coats will be brought over on an as-needed basis.

Glass said they started the program a little late; most councils aim for an Advent kickoff. He said they will be ready for a December start.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016