A Knights of Columbus ‘Coats for Kids’ initiative has equipped hundreds of local school children with brand new winter coats.
On November 11, council members from across Hamilton and the Niagara Peninsula dropped off 136 boxes of brand new winter coats at a collection site at St. Elizabeth’s Village. Over the next few days, the coats will be distributed to schools in Hamilton, Niagara and Guelph, including Equal Opportunities schools in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.
Thanking the Knights for their goodness and generosity, Chairperson Patrick Daly noted that the needs in Hamilton are significant.
“Poverty is a very real issue for many of our school communities and unfortunately for too many students in our Catholic schools,” he said. “Activities like this, which help young people, can make a real difference in their lives and ultimately in their education.”
He added that the coats not only keep the children warm, but allow them to walk among their peers proudly and as equals.
“I don’t want you to underestimate the difference that can make in their education. As you know, education is what levels the playing field for everyone and provides a young person with hope for the future.”
Coats for Kids evolved from a conversation three years ago between Neil Bouvier, General Agent for the Knights of Columbus Insurance Program and Nat Gallo, a retired Catholic secondary school principal regarding a project that the councils could do together. Gallo, a former Supreme Director with the Knights of Columbus Supreme Board suggested Coats for Kids, a program initiated by the Supreme Board in 2009 to provide needy children with warm winter coats.
“This was one project that I thought would hit home here in this community because of the number of kids that are in need,” said Gallo.
“To see the kids with their coats, it’s really something.”
The program began in 2015 with two councils, grew to eight in year two and now has several councils from Hamilton, Burlington and the Niagara region onboard.
While the needs keep growing, so too do the contributions, said Bouvier.
Indicating that last year’s response was “fantastic,” Bouvier said that the Knights collected 840 coats – ten times the number collected in year one of the program.
“Well the numbers are in for 2017,” he continued. “As of last night, we’re at 1,640 coats.”
552 of those coats will be donated to children in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board’s Equal Opportunities schools.
“You have helped hundreds and hundreds of young people to keep them warm, but obviously to improve their quality of life,” said Daly in words of thanks.
“Whatever we can do to make this to even more available to an increased number of children, we are happy to do that.”