As individuals, few of us have ever experienced a pandemic. Though as a Church, the Body of Christ, we have walked this road many times before. The Knights of Columbus have been the strong arm of the Church during numerous crises and now again answer the call to step into the breach.
At the outset of COVID-19, Knights of Columbus Order-wide have been encouraged to serve and sacrifice for those around them. There are many people and places that require urgent help. Our food banks, blood centers, and other essential services have been depleted of their vital supplies. Personal preparations for quarantine have also coincided with a reduction in donations to local food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens.
Lent is usually the time of the year when the Knights at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church organize the 40 Cans for 40 Days food drive, aligned with the Church’s tradition of accompanying fasting with giving alms. When public Masses were canceled and the physical church building closed, the opportunities for parishioners to donate were greatly diminished. The Knights recognized this circumstance and, once able to organize and get up-and-running on all the various web-conferencing and social media tools available, brainstormed remedies. We decided the best social distance-minded option was to host a drop-off-style collection event at the parish.
By that time, Fr. Mike Galbraith, the chaplain for Council 11757, had already begun utilizing social media to celebrate the Mass and had become quite proficient in reaching out to his people in this new environment; he offered to announce our drive at the end of Divine Mercy Sunday Mass. We called St. Vincent de Paul and Southeast Alaska Food Bank to understand their greatest needs, highlighting those items in our announcement. And with that, we ran the food drive and then were blown away by the generosity which came pouring in during that quick, four-hour shift, completely smashing our goal.
Fr. Mike captured our sentiment in his report to the parish,
I sincerely want to thank you for your generous support and contributions that were donated during our Food Drive that was held from 1:00 – 5:00 pm yesterday. It was beyond a tremendous success, a far greater response than we had anticipated. We had hoped to bring in at least 500 pounds of food for St. Vincent de Paul and the Food Bank. What was donated and brought in was as follows: 1375 lbs. of food, donated by 38 people, as well as $250.00 in checks.
Even after the drive, Knights continued to collect and deliver food and monies received from donors who could not make the initial drive or heard about it after the fact.
During this quarantine time, the Knights of Columbus of Juneau remain active by checking in with our elderly; reviewing applications for our High School Scholarship; making headway on grounds improvement projects at the church (removal of the rectory’s old underground storage tank and beautification of the wooded areas); receiving new members into the order and planning other efforts to take care of our neighbors in the community. We even finished up another successful year of the annual Bison Hunt Raffle amid all the hunkering!
With so many cinematic portrayals of post-apocalyptic society primed in our minds, it is easy to get pulled into even the slightest self-preservation-driven mindset. This time in our lives truly is an opportunity to make an offering of ourselves. There is much joy in giving, and I witnessed it in each of the faces which came to drop off food at the church – even behind their many-assorted and colorful masks!
On behalf of the Knights of Columbus, thank you for helping us serve Christ by feeding His hungry, physically and spiritually. God bless.
Grand Knight, Council 11757
Knights of Columbus