Knights of Columbus provide “Coats for Kids"

Knights of Columbus provide “Coats for Kids” in HWCDSB schools
Posted on 10/26/2023
coats in piles

A total of 840 students across the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board will be protected from the winter elements, thanks to a Coats for Kids initiative run by the Knights of Columbus.

At an official blessing and kickoff event on October 12, principals were invited to ‘shop’ from an assortment of new coats for students in their schools.

Coats for Kids evolved from a conversation in 2015 between Neil Bouvier, former 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, also 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 children in need with warm winter coats.

Since 2009, more than 500,000 coats have been donated by the Knights of Columbus around the world.

In Hamilton, the coats are funded through three avenues: donations from councils, fundraising efforts and personal/corporate sponsorships.

“The Knights of Columbus have been a valued partner with the HWCDSB ensuring that no child goes without a winter coat during the cold Canadian months,” said Equal Opportunities Consultant John Madalena.

This has been especially important in recent years as schools have seen an increase in newcomers from parts of the world that are not used to harsher climates, he added.

“At a time when we know our government programs are falling short, our Coats for Kids is one of our flagship programs, which highlights the kind of impact we have every day as a fraternal organization,” said State Deputy Bruce Poulin.

“And if you have a chance to talk with some of our member Knights and ask them about the program, you'll find that none of them say, ‘we're done.’ In fact, what they'll tell you is that they want to do more... there's always a little bit more they can do.”

A special highlight of the program this year is the inclusion of larger teen sizes, up to 3XL, to help the older high school students keep warm.

Bringing words of greeting on behalf of senior administration and the Board of Trustees, Director of Education David Hansen spoke of the remarkable response time of those behind-the-scenes.

“I really want to impress upon you the impact this work has,” he said.

‘Within a 24-hour response time, if a need has been identified by our schools, a student has a coat that fits them and is ready to go.”

“Why is that important?”

“I think all of us can understand that the dignity of a child to not stand out and look different. So, these coats look like every other coat on the schoolyard... and the need is met in 24 hours. What a remarkable respect for students that are in most need.”

“The work that is done by the Knights is absolutely an example of faith in action. It is a witness to each of us that a life is enriched by Christian service... and what a model for our students, for us as staff, and for our community.”

Moving forward, partnerships with the Catholic Women’s League hope to build upon the program and include hats, gloves, scarves, and even boots, to be bundled together with the coats.

To learn more about the Knights of Columbus or support Coats for Kids, please click here.

piles of coatsPrincipal Joe Curto picks outs coats for kidshanging coatsKnights of Columbus and HWCDSB staff posing with coats