Ontario Knights top charitable fundraisers

  • August 6, 2009

PHOENIX, Arizona - Led by donations from Canadian councils, the Knights of Columbus bucked the recession this past year to break its own record for fund raising by donating more than $150 million to worldwide charities.

Not only did Ontario Knights lead all 72 jurisdictions in North America and abroad in dollars raised, but on a per-capita basis Canadian councils, led by British Columbia, accounted for nine of the top 14 jurisdictions.

The Knights of Ontario , numbering 57,000 members from more than 500 active councils, gave $9.1 million to local, Canadian and International causes. They were followed by Quebec with $8.5 million. The combined total of $17.6 million from those two provinces accounted for almost 12 per cent of the $150 million donated by Knights worldwide.

“This has been going on for a number of years,” said Ontario state deputy Yvon Robert. “Whenever we ask for something, the people get behind us. It’s like that even though some other jurisdictions have twice as many members as us.”

On a per-capita basis, Ontario members donated $160.87 per Knight. That was second to front-running British Columbia at $213.95.

“It’s not a matter of competition,” Robert said. “It’s a matter of looking after the well being of others.”

Overall, worldwide charitable donations from the Knights increased by $5.1 million last year, representing an improvement, despite the recession, of 3.5 per cent over the previous year. The Knights have contributed more than $1.3 billion to charity over the past decade, according to Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

“The compassion of Knights is never more clear than when we help those who are suffering from disease and injury,” he said.

The funds go to dozens of worthy causes. Anderson highlighted three of them in his keynote address on Aug. 4 at the Knights annual convention. He announced that the Knights will donate $1 million over the next four years to the Special Olympics; will continue to grow its wheelchair mission, which has distributed 15,000 wheelchairs since 2002 to people around the world; and will expand its KC Coats for Kids program, launched in 2008, into a “significant charitable effort to benefit children in need.”

The wheelchair program, in particular, is close to the heart of the Ontario council. It was among the first Canadian councils to join the program and last year sent 250 wheelchairs to Mexico. Robert hopes to increase that number to 500 or more wheelchairs this year by having every council contribute at least one chair each.

“It touched our hearts to see the need for these chairs in Mexico,” Robert said. “We saw men and women who were putting their children on their shoulders to carry them to school. In Mexico City alone there is a need for 150,000 wheelchairs.”

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