Sunday, October 26, 2008

Knights of Columbus in Chester Never Lacking Good Intentions

If you shop regularly at any given supermarket, chances are you’ve probably seen them at one point in your travels. Same goes for if you’re just driving down the street, their symbol is recognizable in many different areas across the land and not just here in the United States, with some of their other locations including Cuba, Guam, and Saipan just to name a few.

They’re the Knights of Columbus, and with more than 13,000 councils and 1.7 million members across the world, there’s little wonder why this Catholic organization that bases its foundation on charity, unity, and fraternity, is so well-known almost anywhere you go.

Pete Grice, chancellor and field agent, for the Knights of Columbus Council 5410 of Chester, has his beliefs as to why their organization is such a guiding force in the giving business.

“The list [of who we participate with] gets pretty long as far as charities go,” Mr. Grice says.
Grice, who has been with the Knights of Columbus in general since 1968, and with the Chester branch for the past five or six years, counts the many different charities on the list that round out their annual donations.

“We give money to ARC in Morris County, Cerebral Palsy in Chester, Wehrlen,” he says, thinking of a few other places the organization gives money to annually, “We also donate to a firemen’s house in Boonton, as one of our retired members is in there,” he says.

Along with these organizations, there are also the scholarships they give out to local high schools such as in Randolph High, Medham High, and in West Morris in Chester.

“We pretty much stick to the schools in our backyard,” Grice says.

And there are also the aforementioned stand-outside-the-supermarket charities mentioned earlier, such as the state organized, God’s Special Children Charity, where members of the Knights of Columbus stand outside the store with a can, asking for donations, with any money received never too small.

“One year we might be giving out $600,” Grice says of how much money they might donate to their charities, “And some years, it might be $1000. It really all depends on the year,” he says.
But what doesn’t depend on the year at all is the fundraisers that they hold to garner as much money as possible. One such event is the annual St. Patties Day Dance, while others not so stuck on a specific date events include meals for the public, such as pancake breakfasts and Italian dinners.

“Every time there’s an opportunity to have a donation, we’ll hold a meeting [about what we can do]” Grice says.

This notion of giving for the sake of giving sticks closely to the group’s original intentions. Founded back in1881 by a parish priest named, Father Michael J. McGivney, the fraternity was founded with the intention of forming an organization dedicated to selflessness and philanthropy. And in 2008, that organization still stands strong on their ideals, their beliefs still alive that the bigger picture is much more important than the smaller self.

“I’m just one member,” Grice says, “one little cog in the wheel.”

Luckily for the world, it’s a wheel that never stops turning.

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