For 45 years, Knights of Columbus from Orinoco Council 39 have put on a grand holiday dinner for those in the wider community who might otherwise be alone on Christmas Day.
Hosted at the council’s headquarters in Greenwich, Conn., the event has seen growth in numbers over recent years. Volunteers served 82 guests in 2017, more than 90 in 2018, and expectations were high of hitting the century mark this year.
The good numbers are a result of making sure those who potentially are lonely or shut in know they are invited.
“We get the word out through the local churches in Greenwich, and we post signs and sign-up boxes at retirement centers in Greenwich and surrounding areas,” said Grand Knight Rob Estevez. The council also provides transportation for those who need a ride to and from the celebration. Usually about a third of the guests require such assistance.
In addition, the Knights prepare and deliver Christmas meals to those who request them but cannot attend, which in recent years has resulted in an additional 40-50 meals served.
The Christmas Day dinner was the brainchild of then-Grand Knight Robert Morris back in 1974. The idea was well received by Knights and guests alike, and so it quickly became a tradition.
All food for the dinner is purchased through council funds, and Knights plus some family members provide the labor. Many volunteers return year after year, giving up their Christmas Day to serve those in need. In fact, the same core group of men has led the cooking detail for many years, arriving in the early hours of Christmas morning to prepare the feast.
“Brother John McCarthy and Brother Edward Cofone have been doing it almost every year,” Estevez said. What keeps volunteers coming back “is their love for charity and commitment to the Christmas spirit.”
Those who attend the dinners say they appreciate the quality of the food and the opportunity to socialize and make friends on Christmas. Many know one another from past Christmas dinners and look forward to the occasion to reunite each year.
That’s what is so satisfying for those who work so hard to make it all happen, said Estevez.
“The Knights of Columbus Orinoco 39 Greenwich takes pride in its commitment to charity and helping those in need,” he said. “We believe in brotherhood, family and having strong Catholic values. That is what keeps us doing this dinner every year for 45 years strong, and we will proudly continue to do so in the future.”
Gerald Korson, a veteran Catholic journalist, is a member of the Knights of Columbus in Indiana.
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