JERSEY CITY, N.J. — The head of the Knights of Columbus praised a recent coat drive for children in partnership with Denver Broncos players, coaches and their families, calling it a sign of Christian charity.
“As an organization founded on the principle of charity, the Knights of Columbus is committed to helping our neighbors in need,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson told CNA.
The Coats for Kids program is “a timely reminder that, for too many children, harsh cold is a daily reality at this time of year,” Anderson said.
Jack Del Rio, defensive coordinator for the Broncos, his wife, Linda, and about a dozen members of the Broncos organization helped give away more than 200 coats at Sacred Heart Elementary School in Jersey City’s inner city on Jan. 28, and they helped the students try on their new coats in the school’s cafeteria.
Ray McKenna, president of Catholic Athletes for Christ, also attended the event, as did Anderson.
“We are grateful to Jack and Linda Del Rio and to the other Broncos players and coaches who took time out of their busy schedule to assist us in helping local children during this cold winter,” said Anderson.
The students greeted the Broncos with the words “Good morning, visitors — God bless you,” and the school choir sang You Have to Have Hope.
After the Knights of Columbus selected the school for the coat distribution, they learned that Broncos defensive end Robert Ayers had grown up in the neighborhood and had attended Sacred Heart.
Ayers spoke to many of the students, to school principal Sister Francis Salemi and to two of his former teachers.
Members of the Denver Broncos also took part in a previous coat distribution in Denver in October. Since the Knights’ Coats for Kids program was begun in 2009, it has provided 170,000 new coats for children, and more than 1,200 Knights of Columbus councils took part in the program last year.
Anderson praised the school’s staff and faculty and said, “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.”
He said that the return of a former student such as Ayers, and the attention of national leaders to their problems, “sends a very important message to these children: They are not forgotten.”