By ARDEN BASTIA The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't stopped the Warwick Knights of Columbus from making an impact on their community, and Grand Knight Joe Burns says this year was the biggest one yet. The theme of this year's Knights of Columbus charitable
The COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped the Warwick Knights of Columbus from making an impact on their community, and Grand Knight Joe Burns says this year was the biggest one yet.
The theme of this year’s Knights of Columbus charitable campaigns is “Leave No Neighbor Behind,” a message that Burns says is just what this year needed.
“It’s been a tough year for everyone, and we always do the normal charitable stuff, but this year we tried to knock it out of the park.”
Burns explained some of the charity work the council has done throughout 2020. During both Thanksgiving and Christmas, they assembled 25 baskets of food to give to families in need. Like always, the organization provided scholarships for students attending Catholic schools like St. Kevin and St. Peter. Just a few weeks ago, they teamed up with the East Providence Knights of Columbus council and participated in Operation ROVAC (Remembering Our Veterans At Christmas). The event helped gather necessities for the Rhode Island Veteran’s Home in Bristol. In addition to placing donation boxes in churches and Knights of Columbus halls, the Warwick members went above and beyond. “We did the shopping and went out and bought a bunch of sweaters, sweatpants, socks, gloves, that kind of stuff,” Burns said. “We tried to step it up and do a little more than we usually do.”
Between the Warwick and East Providence councils, members were able to fill a U-Haul with donations.
“We had to make some adaptations because of the pandemic, but we were still able to reach out and do something for the community,” said Burns.
Individual members of Warwick’s Knights of Columbus have gone out of their way to assist the community. Burns described members who help sanitize local parishes after services, and one member who helps out at food pantries week after week. Burns says the organization has “big plans” for the upcoming spring and summer to celebrate their 100th anniversary.
Another big milestone for the Knights of Columbus was celebrated this past October when Father Michael McGivney, the founder of the organization, was beatified and became one step closer to sainthood.
With about 370 members, the Warwick chapter of Knights of Columbus is the largest council in the state. It was also the first council to embrace virtual meetings and platforms like Google Meet. “Like I said, our theme this year is ‘No Neighbor Left Behind’ and to me that means accessibility,” said Burns, who is a fan of both virtual and in-person meetings. “I have a plan of keeping it virtual. Even when people were comfortable going out during the summer, I would find that there would still be people who hadn’t been to an in-person meeting but joined virtually.”
He described how members who were in the hospital or out of state joined meetings, some for the first time in a long time.
“If one person was able to go that wasn’t before, then we’ve done something good.”
The next event Warwick’s Knights of Columbus is hosting is a blood drive on Jan. 17 from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. in the main hall at 475 Sandy Lane. Burns described a downturn in blood donations this year because of COVID. “If we were ever going to do something, this is the year to step up and show our community that we’re here for them.”
January is National Blood Donor Month and Burns says it aligns perfectly with the theme of “No Neighbor Left Behind”. Donations are by appointment only. To schedule a donation, visit www.ribc.org/drives with sponsor code 0011.
Burns may not know what the New Year will bring, but he says the Knights of Columbus’ “number one priority is charity. It’s going to be a wild ride, but we’re all in it for the long haul.”
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