Catholic fraternal organization the Knights of Columbus set new records in donations and volunteer hours in 2013, continuing its long-standing service programs and responding to several natural disasters. “Whether with funds or service, and whether quietly helping someone overcome a personal tragedy or assisting in the aftermath of a widely known humanitarian disaster, the outpouring of charity by our members produces meaningful results, especially by helping to bring peace of mind to those who find themselves in incredibly difficult situations,” Knights of Columbus head Carl Anderson said June 12. The order gave more than $170 million in donations and its members worked more than 70.5 million volunteer hours last year, the Knights of Columbus said, citing its annual survey. “Charity has been at the heart of the Knights’ mission for the past 132 years,” Anderson said. He noted the Knights of Columbus’ response to the two “enormous” natural disasters in the Philippines: the October 2013 Bohol earthquake and Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013. The order provided aid in the aftermath of tornadoes in Oklahoma, floods in Canada’s Alberta province, and the factory explosion in the small Texas town of West. It also provided assistance to victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. “The year also saw the Knights continue their support for the victims of Superstorm Sandy, and for the people of Newtown, Connecticut, as they recovered from the school shooting that took the lives of 26 residents, most of whom were young children,” Anderson said. The organization’s regular initiatives include support for the intellectually disabled, programs to provide food and winter coats to poor families, and blood drives. It helps support Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics and the American Wheelchair Mission. The order’s reported volunteer hours increased by more than 421,000 over its 2012 total. In the last 10 years the organization had donated almost $1.5 billion to charity and contributed 683 million volunteer hours. The Knights of Columbus has more than 1.8 million members in North America, Central America, the Philippines, the Caribbean and Europe. It was founded in 1882 in New Haven, Conn., by Venerable Servant of God Michael J. McGivney, a parish priest who sought to help widows and orphans while aiding Catholic families and conducting acts of charity.
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