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Community Activities

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In the late 1960s and early '70s in the wake of Church reforms brought about by the Second Vatican Council, the Knights of Columbus took a serious look at itself and the world around it. Answering the call by the council fathers to show greater concern for the poor, end discrimination and help build a more just and peaceful world, the Knights of Columbus developed its "Surge...with Service" program of volunteerism. Volunteerism informed by Christian concern is the hallmark of the Knights of Columbus and results in outstanding contributions of time and talent to our cities and communities. In 1996, Knights of Columbus Orderwide raised and donated more than $44.6 million on community projects and volunteered 12.6 million hours to community projects.


The Knights of Columbus champions life from conception to natural death. The Order conducts education programs for its members and the public, provides financial assistance to national and local right-to-life groups, and prays for the protection of life. As part of an oderwide program, hundreds of K of C units have constructed memorials to innocent unborn children killed through abortion. Since 1990 the Knights of Columbus has donated some $8.8 million to the U.S. bishops' pro-life education and public information campaign, plus $1 million in in-kind services. In spring-summer 1996, the Order conducted a postcard campaign to ask U.S. members to urge their representatives in Congress to override the presidential veto of the partial-birth abortion ban act. Some 2.5 million cards were distributed. The Knights of Columbus files friend-of-the-court briefs in important cases on life issues argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, most currently on assisted suicide. The Order prints and distributes millions of pieces of pro-life literature at no charge. Its most recent publication is a study guide to Pope John Paul II's pro-life encyclical, Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life).


The Knights of Columbus supports Special Olympics and other programs for people with mental retardation. Knights serve as trainers, coaches, officials and in any other capacity needed at state and local Special Olympics games. The Supreme Council has been a sponsor of the Special Olympics World Games for many years. As a sponsor of the 1995 Special Olympics World Games, held in New Haven, Connecticut, the Knights of Columbus contributed $1 million and provided more than 7,000 volunteers for the event. The Knights of Columbus has donated tens of million of volunteer hours and dollars to programs for people with mental retardation. Canadian Knights, especially in Ontario, are supporting the 1997 Winter International Special Olympics Games to be held in that province. The Supreme Council provided $100,000 as partners with the Canadian Knights. In 1996, the Order raised and donated more than $17.8 million to benefit people with mental retardation and programs supporting them.


Knights of Columbus members participate in a variety of health service programs. Councils regularly join in national programs to bring public attention to heart disease and the dangers of smoking and alcohol and drug abuse. Some councils assist needy people in finding free or low-cost medical care. Knights help raise money for medical research in a variety of areas including cancer and AIDS. Knights and their families regularly volunteer at veterans' hospitals, hospices and other health care facilities. Knights participate in blood drives, with 334,263 donating blood in 1996.


Members' civic involvement comes in many forms. Councils and assemblies run campaigns urging citizens to vote. Knights take part in community recreation programs, patriotic observances, penal reform programs and cultural activities. K of C units regularly recognize outstanding civil servants, police officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and others in their communities by presenting them with certificates of merit.


The Knights of Columbus has been at the front of efforts to stem the flood of pornography engulfing communities. Councils promote programs to inform people of the dangers of pornography and report violations of community standards to those responsible for enforcing existing laws. Councils organize letter-writing campaigns to newspaper editors and radio and television station managers objecting to offensive advertising for "R" and "X" rated motion pictures. In addition, Knights support and work in concert with groups such as Morality in Media in the United States, Canadians for Decency and the Alianza Nacional para la Defensa de la Moral Familiar in Mexico.


Knights of Columbus members regularly participate in and sponsor programs aimed at combating substance abuse. Councils work with local police, youth groups and other organizations to provide educational programs on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. The Supreme Council also offers posters on alcohol abuse awareness to local units for community projects. Knights regularly participate in programs that publicize the dangers of drunk driving.

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