Jon Walker and Daniel Heter, members of All Saints Knights of Columbus Council #2610 in Richford, get a warm feeling helping the fraternal organization’s annual Coats for Kids project, which helps the most vulnerable in their community.

“It’s wonderful to see these kids with new coats,” said Walker, coordinator of the project. “Think how cold they would be [without proper winter coats] when it’s minus 10 [degrees] up here [on the Canadian border] if they just had a little spring coat.”

Thanks to the Knights, 43 children have new winter coats.

The council raises money through various activities including a chicken barbecue, bingo and clubs, and a portion of what is raised is used to buy the coats online.

This year the council spent about $1,000 on coats.

The Knights work with four schools — Richford Elementary, Berkshire Elementary, Enosburg Elementary and Montgomery Elementary — to determine which students need winter coats.

Once the coats are delivered to the parish’s Dorion Hall, Knights sort, package and distribute them to each school, usually by early October. “They need winter coats by Nov. 1,” Walker said, alluding to the cold, fall weather in northern Vermont.

“Richford is a very poor community,” continued the retired transportation manager, so the coats are a welcome gift for many families.

“All the guys are really into it,” he said of Coats for Kids. “It’s very positive.”

Heter, a retired union electrician, said it’s “fulfilling” to help with the project.

“You get a warm feeling,” Walker said. “This is what we should do as Catholics — help the poor and needy.”

He and Heter — both grandfathers — know how quickly children grow, so they want to make sure children in the community have winter coats that fit. “There are so many kids here that don’t have much,” Walker said. “We have a lot of passion for this project.”

—Originally published in the Winter 2019 issue of Vermont Catholic magazine.