With Sunday’s big game scheduled during a record cold snap, several players and coaches from the Broncos joined with the Knights of Columbus to bring warmth to inner-city children at a local school.
The Jan. 28 Knights of Columbus “Coats for Kids” event was held at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Jersey City, N.J., with the support of the Jack and Linda Del Rio Foundation and Catholic Athletes for Christ. Jack Del Rio is the Broncos’ defensive coordinator.
“While there is much talk about this year’s championship game taking place in the midst of record cold weather, and the hardships that will be endured by fans and players for several hours on Sunday, Tuesday’s ‘Coats for Kids’ event serves as a timely reminder that, for too many children, harsh cold is a daily reality at this time of year,” said Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.
The supreme knight and several other Knights of Columbus were joined by about a dozen members of the Broncos organization, including the Del Rios, and Ray McKenna, president of Catholic Athletes for Christ.
The Knights selected Sacred Heart for the coat distribution site and then discovered that one of the Broncos — Defensive End Robert Ayers — had grown up in the neighborhood and attended the school.
The students gathered in the cafeteria for the event and stood as their guests arrived, greeting them with, “Good morning visitors — God bless you!” The school’s choir then sang “You Have to Have Hope” as the special day took on a festive air.
A group of Broncos players and coaches helped the students try on their new coats, with Ayers taking the time to speak to many of the students; the school principal, Sister Frances Salemi; and two of his former teachers.
“I just want them to know that anything is possible,” Ayers told the New York Post. “Sometimes when you grow up in places like this area, you may not think there is much more out there. But if you work hard, the sky is the limit for all of us. I’m just one example.”
Supreme Knight Carl Anderson applauded the great work being done by the dedicated teachers at Sacred Heart and those members of the Broncos who attended the event. “The dedicated faculty and staff at inner-city Catholic schools like this one make an enormous difference in the lives of their students and help them rise above their often difficult circumstances,” said Anderson, who attended Tuesday's event at Sacred Heart. "Having one of their own return in this fashion, and seeing that people on the national stage care about their problems, also sends a very important message to these children — they are not forgotten."
Difficult circumstances are common for the students at Sacred Heart — most of whom are eligible for the school lunch program. More than 200 of the school’s students were given new coats at Tuesday’s event.
Launched in 2009, the K of C “Coats for Kids” program has already provided more than 170,000 new coats to children in need. More than 1,200 K of C councils participated in this program in the past year. The Knights and members of the Denver Broncos previously joined forces in October to distribute coats to kids on a snowy day in Denver.
For more information, visit www.KofC.org/coats.
The Knights of Columbus is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization with 1.8 million members in more than 14,000 councils. Last year, the group donated $167.5 million and 70 million hours of work to charitable endeavors. The Knights was founded by Venerable Father Michael McGivney in New Haven, Conn., in 1882, with charity as its first principle.