Fort O Knights of Columbus with Gary Sisk and Steve Wilson

Knights of Columbus Fort Oglethorpe Council 7416 donated winter coats and $500 each to the Catoosa County and Walker County sheriff’s offices’ Stocking Full of Love programs. From left: Grand Knight Tim Meyer, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, Knights of Columbus member and pastor of St. Gerard’s Catholic Church Father Brian Bufford, Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk, Knights of Columbus member Don Hays, and Knights of Columbus member Ben Cabeen.

As part of its charitable giving this year, the Knights of Columbus Fort Oglethorpe Council 7416 donated $500 each to the Catoosa County and Walker County sheriff’s offices’ Stocking Full of Love programs that have been going on for over 30 years.

“We’ve been donating to Stocking Full of Love in both counties for 15 or 16 years,” says Knights of Columbus member Don Hays. The group also donated a large box of children’s winter coats to each sheriff’s office.

Grand Knight Tim Meyer says his group was able to donate more this year because coronavirus concerns had shut down some of the activities of the other 15 charities it normally supports, including holiday parties and activities associated with Lookout Mountain Community Services and Special Olympics.

Stocking Full of Love, say Catoosa Sheriff Gary Sisk and Walker Sheriff Steve Wilson, provided Christmas gifts for 2,200 children in Catoosa and Walker counties this year — split evenly between the two, at about 1,100 in each county. The numbers, say both sheriffs, were actually down a little from last year. That’s a good thing, they say — it means more people were able to provide gifts for their children on their own.

Hays says the Knights of Columbus raises money for the charities they support in a variety of ways. “We hold an annual golf tournament — a four-man scramble,” he says. “We also do fish fries and we provide parking during the Fort Oglethorpe 5K run every year.”

The golf tournament was started, says Hays, at the suggestion of a former pastor, Father Michael Redden, of St. Gerard’s Catholic Church in Fort Oglethorpe, and has turned out to be the Knight’s main source of funds for their charitable giving.

The Knights also hold Friday fish fries during the Lent season and occasional other times. A dinner plate sold this past year for $7 and included fried fish, hush puppies, green beans, a baked potato, cole slaw, a roll, dessert and coffee or tea. The fish fries are held at St. Gerard’s on Lafayette Road and are advertised by a sign at the street in front of the church.

During the annual 5K run in Fort Oglethorpe, the Knights of Columbus runs a parking service in the parking lot of St. Gerard. People are charged to park, Knights are on hand to help direct traffic, and the Knights provide coffee and snacks free of charge.

Both Sheriff Sisk and Sheriff Wilson have expressed their deep appreciation for the donations from the Knights of Columbus that help bring Christmas to children who might otherwise go without gifts.

Tamara Wolk is a reporter for The Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga., and Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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