Councils of Knights adapt to new normal with old-fashioned aid

Knights unload a car full of donated food. (Provided)

CHARLESTON—Efforts by various Knights of Columbus councils, aimed at helping the organization and the communities they serve adapt to the pandemic’s “new normal,” are a testament to their fraternal spirit.

“The challenging times that we are in has provided for unique opportunities for inward thoughts and appreciation that is often missed in our day-to-day activities,” said Grand Knight Joe Mule, of Council 704 in Charleston.

A Knight, who asked to remain anonymous, asked the council to help him distribute thumb rosaries to anyone in the diocese who wants one. Mule said the Knight views the effort as a way to renew adoration of the Blessed Mother.

“His generosity and his willingness to provide these thumb rosaries is a true example of his dedication and commitment to the faith,” he said.

In addition, Council 704 and others in the diocese continue to assist local food banks. The Charleston council has donated $1,500 each to  East Cooper Community Outreach and Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach.

In the Greenville Deanery, Council 9184 in Taylors is assisting the non-denominational Triune Mercy Center in downtown Greenville and its outreach to the area’s homeless population. Starting June 7, parishioners at Prince of Peace Church will be providing food to the center.

“We are feeding 100 people the first Sunday of each month,” said Grand Knight John Olson. In addition to food items, monetary donations to Triune are being accepted through the Council 9184 website, he said.

The council also has been assisting the outreach efforts of the parish’s St. Vincent de Paul Society during the pandemic, Olson said.

Grand Knight Rick Swain, of Council 11325 in Lexington, said they joined with the ladies of the council to provide meals to a family whose child had to quarantine after returning from Italy. The council also offered support for a Knight and his wife who contracted the virus (see page 3).

“At the start of this, our council wanted to make sure everyone was surviving the pandemic. We contacted 94 percent of all our members in just over two weeks by telephone, text, email and regular mail,” Swain said.

The council also held a blood drive at the start of the pandemic shutdown with another planned for May 24 at Corpus Christi.

“Council 11325 is doing everything it can to make sure it leaves no neighbor behind,” Swain said about  initiatives started in early April at the state level and carried forward by local councils.

Grand Knight Scott Schweitzer, of Council 10819, said its local Leave No Neighbor Behind effort included supporting the St. Vincent de Paul conference with a drive-thru food drop at St. Mary Magdalene in Simpsonville.

“Between Council 10819 and (St. Vincent de Paul), we had approximately 52 volunteers,” Schweitzer said. The effort collected more than 4,500 food items to be distributed through St. Vincent de Paul, he said.

Knights of Columbus State Deputy David Baron said he is “truly inspired by how our 64 councils and 30 assemblies have adapted” to the restrictions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. He said the state council has moved to online exemplifications for men to become Knights, and it has adapted from in-person meetings to councils and assemblies conducting essential business remotely, a move that resulted in more people being able to join in.

The ‘social distancing’ regimen has led a number of councils to conduct their meetings virtually, including the Knights’ recent state convention. The change resulted in higher “attendance” than was typical prior to the pandemic and the subsequent restrictions placed on the size of group gatherings.