State Warden Vince Reyes presents a new winter coat to a young resident of Slave Lake while State Deputy Gary Johnson looks on.

State Warden Vince Reyes presents a new winter coat to a young resident of Slave Lake while State Deputy Gary Johnson looks on.

November 21, 2011
VINCE REYES
SPECIAL TO THE WCR

EDMONTON – Just in time for the onset of winter, needy students in Slave Lake are the recipients of new, warm winter coats provided by the Knights of Columbus.

The Alberta-Northwest Territories Knights raised more than $19,000 from 34 councils across the jurisdiction to provide 150 coats to students in five elementary to junior high schools in the town that was ravaged by fire last May.

State Deputy Gary Johnson, State Warden Vince Reyes with the assistance of their wives and several knights presented the coats to school administrators, teachers, parents and students Oct. 29 at St. Peter Celestine Church hall.

Johnson said the Alberta state council is also making a substantial contribution to the gift card program sponsored by the Catholic Church, spearheaded by Father Jeyapaul Packiasamy.

The Knights were founded by Father Michael McGivney in 1882 to help pastors in serving their parishioners and communities, Johnson said.

"Father Jeyapaul has been working closely with the entire interfaith community in Slave Lake to ensure that those children in need of a winter coat will have one."

OPEN HEARTS

Supreme Director Mickey Casavant said "nobody has asked for anything, nobody can run after the disaster, but people extend their arms and open their hearts to help."

Since 2009, the Knights of Columbus has distributed more than 40,000 coats to the kids throughout the United States and Canada, he said.

Archbishop Gerrard Pettipas of Grouard-McLennan, who took part in the event, said tragedy always catches people by surprise.

"Tragedy," he continued, "teaches us a tremendous lesson about humanity: People care about other people, the goodness of people and people are fundamentally good."

More information about the Coats for Kids Program is available by calling the Knights of Columbus state office at 1-800-656-0042.

The Coats for Kids initiative was part of the organization's Help a Child in Need campaign that began in 2006 with a nationwide television appeal for donations to support the needs of children.