CLAYMONT — With their ability to fundraise severely curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Christopher Council of the Knights of Columbus have been active in other ways supporting the community.
The council, which serves Holy Rosary Parish in Claymont and St. Helena Parish in Bellefonte, have been busy since April with two initiatives. One is Operation Brown Bag, which benefits the Ministry of Caring, and the community food distribution sponsored by the Claymont Coalition of Churches.
Operation Brown Bag takes place at the council home once a week. Beginning in early April, Knights and their families and friends have made sandwiches and bagged lunches that also include a piece of fruit, a sweet snack, a salty snack and a drink. Typically, the sandwich is peanut butter and jelly because it is not perishable. The lunches are delivered to the Emmanuel Dining Rooms.
“As of last week, we surpassed 10,000 lunches made,” Neal Potts, the grand knight, said Nov. 6.
“It’s a family affair. We welcome all. We have Knights, their spouses, children. We have their friends, and we have some people just showing up. It’s been great.”
The other program, the food distribution, also began in April in a local park but moved to Holy Rosary when Spring Church, which began the giveaway, needed more room. Atonement Methodist Church also is a member of the coalition.
Volunteers help distribute food every other Friday to families in need. That turned into every Friday in October because of the Farmers to Families program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It also meant an increase from 17-20,000 pounds of food given away to approximately 40,000 pounds, Potts said.
“Usually, we get about two dozen Knights per function, and along with that we get, again, some friends and spouses,” he said. On Nov. 6, an 87-year-old Knight directed traffic as it entered the Holy Rosary parking lot.
“When school is not in session, we get some of our younger Knights,” Potts said. “And we have the Knights doing the deliveries to our homebound parishioners. That’s about 25 a week.”
Since that began in April, more than half a million pounds of food has been given to needy families. Potts said that is due to the generosity of parishioners and community members, along with a grant that Holy Rosary received over the summer.
He said the council’s normal philanthropic efforts depend on fundraising, which takes the form of social events such as beef and beers, St. Patrick’s Day parties, and other things of that nature. Those have had to stop, at least for now.
“So, we had to rethink how we did things. We quickly realized that we might not have the money this year, but we have the time and talent,” he said.