Christmas in Baltimore
Baltimore Knights are part of the long tradition of helping children in need at Christmas.
Trolley cars and buses carried hundreds of children through the city. Almost every Catholic orphan in Baltimore was packed into the local concert venue, Ford’s Theatre, on Dec. 24, 1905. Siblings were reunited after months of separation in different orphanages, cherishing the night together. First there was a vaudeville show, then a movie and finally — the highlight of the night — the curtains rose and revealed a massive Christmas tree with Santa Claus himself standing beside it.
The Orphan’s Santa Claus Party was put on by the Baltimore Knights of Columbus, and every penny it cost came directly from the members themselves. Members from various Maryland councils donated $490 — or, in 2018 dollars, over $13,300.
No one missed out. Care was taken to ensure siblings in different homes would see each other at the event, and that ill or injured children left behind still received gifts. The money bought children stockings, handkerchiefs, fruit, candy, dolls or mechanical toys for each girl and boy.
At its inception, the occasion was meant for the families of members only. However, it morphed to instead benefit the children in Catholic orphanages, after multiple councils came together to support the cause.
Last December, Archbishop William E. Lori and the Maryland Knights of Columbus handed out 1,048 coats to students from area schools. A Catholic Review article from Dec. 5, 2017, quoted the archbishop, saying, “We’ll be needing it in the days ahead. Who of us doesn’t need a warm coat in the winter?”
The Coats for Kids event takes place across the U.S. and Canada, with 87,906 coats going home to children in 2016. Along with local school districts, the events take place at military bases, Native American communities and inner-city neighborhood. Since the Knights started Coats for Kids in 2009, almost 400,000 donated coats have been given to children across America and Canada.
All Knights of Columbus councils are able to get involved in Coats for Kids this year. Coats for children, as well as teens, are available for purchase through Knightsgear.
To read more about the Orphan’s Santa Claus Party and other Baltimore Chapter stories, check out selections from “Columbianism in Maryland 1897-1989” on the Baltimore Chapter’s website.