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    Knights Hold Socially Distant Fish Fries

    Councils adapt traditional Lenten fish fry fundraisers during the COVID-19 pandemic to help local charities

    By Andrew Fowler 3/12/2021
    Knights from Tonganoxie Sacred Heart Council 11352 in Tonganoxie, Kan., prepare food during one of the council’s drive-thru fish fries. (Jay Soldner/The Leaven)

    It’s long been an annual tradition for many Knights of Columbus councils to host fish fries during Lent. At these events, Knights serve meatless dinners to fundraise for charity while building community within the local parish. Due to the pandemic lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions last year, councils were unable to hold their fish fry events as usual. This Lent, many councils have brought back the Lenten tradition — only this time the events look a little different.

    Our Lady of the Lakes Council 6318 in Carmel, N.Y., is one council that’s back this year serving up the Lenten favorite. Although the council paused their normal fish fries last year, they still cooked meals for seniors who were unable, or afraid, to go out as well as for first responders, clergy and the parish food pantry.

    “This year the situation has improved, but we're still sending meals to the rectory and set a special seniors hour for their safety and convenience,” said Robert Firriolo, Council 6318’s community programs director.

    The proceeds from the council’s fish fries have benefited a number of charities — St. James Food Pantry, Disabled American Veterans, Special Olympics New York, the Knights of Columbus Christian Refugee Relief Fund and CAREERS Support Solutions, an organization dedicated to helping individuals with disabilities in becoming employed.

    Other councils, like St. Viateur’s Council 745 in Kankakee, Ill., are taking extra health precautions by offering curbside meal deliveries as well as a socially distanced seating option. The fish fries raise nearly $10,000 a year for the council’s charity fund, which was sorely missed last year when their fish fries were canceled.

    St. Marks/Star of the Sea Council 11374 in Rochester, N.Y., is also providing a take-out option, where each meal will come with fried haddock, french fries, coleslaw, a roll and a cookie. The proceeds support local pro-life initiatives such as pregnancy resource centers, hospices and a mobile ultrasound van, which will be commissioned in April this year. Although there was much difficulty to fulfill the COVID-19 requirements in order to hold the fish fries, the council believes it will be worth it.

    “There was a large sense of accomplishment to meet all of the requirements to have this happen,” said Mark Gardone, grand knight of Council 11374. “Just to see the enjoyment and the pleasure our patrons derive from it have been big. We’re very happy to be back involved and doing something again, so that we can get back into the swing of things and get back to our normal donations and engagement with our community.”

    Meanwhile, Knights in Le Mars, Iowa, will continue offering drive-thru fish fries as they did during Lent last year. The revenue from the fish fries was donated to 16 local organizations — amounting to over $14,000 — including to a food pantry and to All Saint’s Parish. In total, the Knights served 1,850 meals, raising between $1,800 and $1,900 a night.

    If you need a break from cooking on Fridays and are looking for a good Lenten meal that truly helps your community, check what your local Knights are cooking up.

    Learn more about how Knights are leaving no neighbor behind through various programs and initiatives.

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