PHOTO: Coats for Kids Campaign – St. Mary’s Elementary School Principal, Craig Palmer; Lombardi Council Financial Secretary, John Housen; Lombardi Council Grand Knight, Vaughn Kuhlmeier; & Lombardi Council Community Director, Bob Castner.
MIDDLETOWN– It was Knights in Action throughout the Christmas season, as members of Knights of Columbus councils from several local parishes in Monmouth Count joined forces and pooled resources to enable 213 military personnel to spend the holidays with their families. Knights also delivered more than 1,200 new bed comforters to families in need, visited sick children in hospitals and provided toys and food for many families.
Eight years ago, Knights of Columbus NJ State Officer James E. Stoever initiated “Send a Hero Home for the Holidays” among councils in the catholic diocese of Trenton. During the first five years the program raised nearly $120,000 to send home 216 military members for the Holidays Last year, the 2018 Holiday Season was made more special when Knights came together to raise enough funds to send home 155 service men and women for the Holidays, a goal they wanted to repeat in 2019. The Knights of Columbus in the Trenton Diocese raised enough money last year to meet and exceed that goal, enabling 213 military men and women to celebrate at home.
Councils involved in the 2019 effort were Councils Keyport 3402, Freehold 1672, Marlboro 16964 Middletown 6552. Lincroft 6392, Long Branch 335 Council, Red Bank 3187, Holmdel 11349 Englishtown 5903, Fair Haven 3187, Red Bank 525 Council, and Highlands 11660 Council.
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PHOTO: Jim Stoever & Bill Horton – James E. Stoever is an Officer of the State Council and the man who gave birth to the Send a Hero Home for the Holiday Campaign. Bill Horton is a Former District Deputy (FDD) who was involved in the campaign as well as the Coordinator for the Distribution of the Bed Comforters
Local District Deputies Colin Casey in Middletown and John Flynn of the Highlands Council said persons wishing to donate to the 2020 campaign to continue sending military members home for the holidays can contact them for further information. Casey can be contacted at [email protected], and Flynn at [email protected]. Casey said the Knights are inviting others to contribute to the program because “the thank you notes we receive from these men and women and their families make us want to do even more!
In late November, Cathay Home, Inc.in New York donated more than 1,200 bed comforters of all sizes to the local Knights of Columbus,, asking they be distributed to charities and families in need. The firm needed additional space for a new generation shipment and felt the Knights would be their best resources for distribution where needed. A Keyport Council member arranged to have a trailer at the council house on Route 35 in Keyport for the weekend. Local councils including Vincent Lombardi 6552 Middletown Council, the Rev. Joseph Donnelly 11660 Highlands Council, and councils from Laurence Harbor, Freehold, Red Bank, the Bayshore and Fair Haven 3187 Council joined the St. Joseph’s 3402 Keyport Council in the distribution.
PHOTO: Kenneth Tietjen Foundation Bicycles – PGK Peter Lopusznick; FDD John Brandon; Ken & Janice Tietjen (Kenneth’s parents who work on his Foundation), Community Director, Bob Castner; and Lombardi Council Grand Knight, Vaughn Kuhlmeier.
Comforters were distributed to Project Paul in Keansburg, Memorial School in Union Beach, Elizabeth Public Schools, the Franciscan Friars in the Bronx, the Little Sisters of the Poor in the Bronx, the Blessing Bag Brigade in Long Branch, the Holmdel Community Church, the Sisters of Charity in Elizabeth, the Faith Chapel in Union Beach, St. Vincent DePaul at St. Joseph’s Church in Keyport, Soup Kitchens in Freehold, the Barn for the Poorest of the Poor in Middletown, and many families in need. Keyport Council Grand Knight John Gaffney coordinated the pick-ups and deliveries, FDD William Horton, Jr. coordinated the distribution and Deputy Grand Knight, Wayne Szaro handled the sorting and recording of distributions. Leading efforts in other councils were Casey, Flynn, Grand Knight Vaughn Kuhlmeier, Red Bank 525, Grand Knight Bob Shearer, FDD John Brandon, Brother Gerry Duffy (the Barn for the Poorest of the Poor), and FDD John DiGregorio.
PHOTO: Loading the Bed Comforters at St. Joseph’s 3402 Council in Keyport – FDD Bill Horton; Red Bank 525 Council Grand Knight, Bob Shearer; and Freehold 1672 Council Grand Knight, Brian Barrett.
Other annual events sponsored by Knight s councils during the holiday season included John Brandon’s visits with best friend Santa Claus to local hospitals to visit children with cancer and deliver toys. Santa also appeared at local Knights of Columbus Christmas parties delivering toys to children as well as the local Middletown and Keansburg Police Chiefs to distribute to children in need.
PHOTO: Lombardi Knights with the Middletown and Keansburg Chiefs of Police – Far left, Event Chair John Brandon with his Lombardi Brother Knights present the Keansburg Chief of Police, James Pinot and his Sgt. Tiffany Delia Pietro; and Middletown Chief of Police, Craig Weber with cases of toys and school supplies for children
Santa made a Christmas Day visit to St. Mary’s School in Middletown where the parish hosts dinner for persons who have no one to share the holiday with.
PHOTO: Santa – FDD John Brandon (visited hospitals and children in need throughout the state with presents)
Knights also provided new bicycles and helmets to the Kenneth Tietjen Foundation (PTA Officer Ken Tietjen lost his life on 9/11 as a First Responder) to be donated to children locally in need. Knights also were very involved with the Knights of Columbus “Coats for Kids” Campaign providing warm clothing to those in need.
PHOTO: Part of the Send a Hero Home for the holidays team – District Deputies John Flynn (24) and Colin Casey (23), Lombardi Grand Knight, Vaughn Kuhlmeier; and FDD Bill Horton
PHOTO: Knights Honor Our Military – FDD John Brandon; Father Jeff Kegley, Pastor of Saint Mary, Mother of God Parish in Middletown; our U. S. Marines, DD Colin Casey; State Officer James E. Stoever; and FDD Bill Horton