Greenville Knights of Columbus may be best known in this area for sponsoring the huge Oktoberfest celebration with its German food and music.
However, they’ve also been bringing Christmas cheer in the form of food baskets for the needy since December 1980
This program is one of the earliest traditions set by the council to serve the community, according to Bobb Mahrer, past grand knight. It is now financed mainly through proceeds from the Oktoberfest event.
“Originally our Christmas baskets began as an effort to help some 20 struggling families in the parish of St. William’s Catholic Church, and it slowly expanded to include baskets for non-denominational families throughout the Hunt County area,” said Mahrer. Each Knight suggested needy candidates, and the food baskets were delivered to the homes the week before Christmas.
“Eventually we opted out of this particular plan,” explained Bill Mulcahy, Christmas basket chairman. “There were issues of who was really in need, and we had no way of double-checking. Some had been abusing the system, getting food baskets from us, food from FISH and others. We couldn’t cross-check.”
Now the Knights work through MHMR (Mental Health/Mental Retardation) and FISH (Hunt County Shared Ministries). The Knights deliver the food baskets to the MHMR facility on Stuart Street which distributes them to people who have registered. This plan ensures that the food goes to families truly in need, and prevents people from “working” the system.
“MHMR gives us the family numbers and needs, but no names because of privacy issues,” said Mulcahy. “If any individuals come directly to the Knights, they are referred to FISH. We want everyone who needs it to get food; we want to do the right thing.”
This year 52 families in the area were recipients through the Knights’ project.
“The Christmas baskets (actually boxes which are more practical) contain enough food to feed a family for a week to 10 days,” Mulcahy explained. “Typical items include a turkey or chicken, rice, macaroni and cheese, instant mashed potatoes, beans, bread, apples and oranges. We buy the food locally, wherever we can get the lowest price, and some is donated. This year the Women’s Guild at both St. William’s Catholic Church in Greenville and St. Joseph’s in Commerce helped collect food, and L-3 Missions Integration donated the turkeys.”
The food boxes are assembled at the Knights’ hall. Perishable items are put in the morning of delivery to MHMR.
“It’s been a privilege to serve the needy people in this area,” commented Ron Pinkston, current grand knight. “We look forward to this every year and try to serve everyone who applies.”
Knights of Columbus is an international fraternal organization for Catholic men founded in 1882. The Greenville council was formed in 1979.