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As Knights of Columbus, we are called to serve our family and our God. Our first principle is Charity, at home with our families or in our communities. This is a critical part of our Knights of Columbus mission. Have you ever wondered, “How can I make my community better?” individuals can do great things on their own but there is something bigger than self when Knights of Columbus members come together as one through their council and accomplish great things. Councils that conduct these programs are positively shaping their communities by addressing the needs of its citizens.

Helping Hands

Pope Francis writes in Evangelii Gaudium, “our faith in Christ, who became poor, and was always close to the poor and the outcast, is the basis of our concern for the integral development of society’s most neglected members” (186). He goes on to say, “in this context we can understand Jesus’ command to his disciples: ‘you yourselves give them something to eat!’ (mk 6:37): it means working to eliminate the structural causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor, as well as small daily acts of solidarity in meeting the real needs which we encounter” (188). Iin the model of our founder, Father Mcgivney, councils will lead efforts to assist those most in need. The Helping Hands program is designed to recognize the important work many councils already do to care for the most disadvantaged members of our communities — the homeless, the addicted, the elderly who may feel isolated and abandoned, and many others. Through this program, councils will aid the needy through the activities they feel best suit their community, such as serving at or running a soup kitchen, repairing the facilities of a local service organization or something entirely unique. The requirements for this program are very broad in order to allow councils to serve their community in whatever way is most needed. Council participation in Helping Hands is REQUIRED to qualify for the Columbian award.

Coats for Kids

Provide warmth for deserving children during cold winter months. Families struggling to make ends meet use their scarce resources to meet the most basic needs and cannot always afford the vital essential of a new winter coat. The goal of the Coats for Kids program is to ensure that no child in North America goes without a coat during the winter season. Through the dedication of councils across the United States and Canada, hundreds of thousands of new winter coats have been distributed to children since program inception. Councils across North America can purchase new winter coats for children in need at a discount and distribute them in their local communities. A featured program, Coats for Kids counts for two credits toward the Columbian award.

Global Wheelchair Mission

The Knights of Columbus has partnered with the Global Wheelchair Mission since 2003 with the goal of providing wheelchairs to all those who lack the freedom of mobility, changing the lives of people with disabilities worldwide. Working with the Global Wheelchair Mission is a perfect opportunity to put your faith into action and involve the entire parish in the rewarding charitable work done by your council. Councils are encouraged to raise funds and make donations to purchase deeply discounted wheelchairs. Through partnerships, councils can also purchase a large container of 110 to 280 wheelchairs at $150 per wheelchair for their own donation sites. A featured program, Global Wheelchair Mission counts for two credits toward the Columbian Award. Today, this initiative started in the United States has expanded into Canada through partnership with the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation.

Habitat for Humanity

Knights of Columbus councils work closely with Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit Christian organization, to build homes for families in need at substantially reduced costs. Each year, councils throughout the order donate a considerable number of volunteer hours and dollars to this worthy cause. In order to satisfy program requirements, councils are asked to donate a minimum of $1,000 — or 200 service hours — to Habitat for Humanity projects in their community. A featured program, Habitat for Humanity counts for two credits toward the Columbian award.

Disaster Preparedness

Communities can be brought to a halt when disaster occurs — from large natural disasters to local crises. As community leaders, Knights of Columbus will ensure that their members, families and parish communities are prepared through a campaign that promotes planning and education. This program motivates councils to take a holistic approach to emergency situations by promoting readiness in times of crisis, assessing response capabilities, and learning how to properly respond well ahead of a disaster. Councils will engage their parish and community in disaster preparedness exercises by organizing trainings, fundraisers and various awareness activities.

Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest

Encourage youth in your community to become citizens grounded in their faith through creative writing. Open to all Catholic students (public, private, home, or parochial schools) in grades 8 to 12 during the current school year. This contest encourages today’s youth to be more connected to their community and their faith. The goal of this program is to involve young Catholics in 8th through 12th grade (public, private, parochial or home schools) in civic discourse and instill in them religious and life-affirming values. The essay should be approximately 500-750 words on a specific subject, changing every other year. Entrants will be judged on grammar, style, and how clearly they present the theme — which should showcase creativity, imagination and overall development of the topic.

Soccer Challenge

Provide an athletic outlet for youth ages 9 to 14 in your community. Designed for players to demonstrate their skills in the penalty kick. Councils can sponsor a competition by ordering a soccer Challenge Kit, or volunteer to host and/or support the district, regional and state/province championships. The soccer Challenge is a great way for councils to engage in their communities with an athletic event for youth that encourages the values of sportsmanship and healthy competition. Children demonstrate the most important skill in soccer — shooting accuracy on the penalty kick — and compete to reach the international level of competition. The program is a great way to introduce the order to your community and recruit faithful family men of service. The Grand Knight should order a soccer kit from Supreme Council using the form on Supreme Council’s website. This kit contains the rules, regulations, entry form/score sheets and posters necessary to run a successful Soccer Challenge contest. The council contest should be held any time in September or early October with all councils reporting by October 30th to both Supreme and State Councils.

Community Activity of the Year

The Community Activity Scrapbook Award will be given to the council which has the best Community Activity Project. Each Council should prepare a scrapbook. Start saving your pictures, articles, notes and a detailed description, and send in scrapbook form NO LATER THAN APRIL 1. The State winner will be forwarded and entered in the Supreme Service Awards Program.

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