Mansfield K of C, Taunton school
distribute 436 coats to area children

TAUNTON, Mass. — During the Thanksgiving holiday, Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, S.D.V., offered not only his blessing but volunteered hand-in-hand alongside the many Knights of Columbus from the George C. Shields Council 420 of Mansfield during their annual Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids distribution.

The Supreme Council of the K of C recognizes that families struggle to make ends meet and that parents use their scarce resources for the most basic needs of their families and cannot always afford new winter coats for their children. The goal of the Coats for Kids program is to ensure that no child in North America goes without a warm coat during the winter season. The program has grown since its inception in 2009 and last year the K of C donated 105,190 brand new winter coats to deserving children.

The George C. Shields Council 420 of Mansfield has historically contributed to the Coats for Kids program by purchasing several cases of new coats and in turn distributing them through various local community service organizations. This year under the leadership of Brian Healy, the council’s program director, the council has increased the awareness of the need to provide coats to kids in the Diocese of Fall River. Healey has stated, “It’s our belief that every child deserves a warm winter coat. Through the Knights of Columbus Coats for Kids program not only are coats brand new but even better — they are free!”

In order to help parents provide a new winter coat for their children, the council initially reached out to the generous parishioners of St. Mary’s Parish in Mansfield and asked them to contribute to this worthy charitable cause by making monetary donations to allow for the procurement of coats. In addition, the council also contacted several local businesses to obtain additional support for this program. 

Ben Cavallo of the Cavallo & Signoriello Insurance Agency stepped-up and took a lead sponsorship role in this program in order to demonstrate his support for the Knights and the children in the area. Cavallo’s dad was a long-time member of the Mansfield K of C and was a staunch supporter of the Knights and children in the community. Ben Cavallo has committed to the long-term support of the Coats for Kids program in honor of his father’s memory through the establishment of The Ben Cavallo Coats for Kids Fund.

In addition, Mike Bolea of the Bolea-Amici Funeral Home of Mansfield became a sponsor to show his support for this worthy cause.

This year, the George C. Shields Council 420 was fortunate to receive a matching grant from the Supreme Council of the K of C which literally doubled the number of coats the Mansfield council would have available to donate through the Coats for Kids program. Originally, the council had planned to donate new coats exclusively to Catholic Social Services in Fall River but with the matching grant the Mansfield Knights were able to expand their program with the additional coat distribution held November 24 at the Coyle and Cassidy High School in Taunton.

The Mansfield Council’s lecturer, Jack O’Brien, is the director of Admissions and Advancement at Coyle and Cassidy. O’Brien was able to introduce Brian Healy to his colleagues: Michael Cote, director of Community Service; and Bernie Audette, president. The ball was quickly off and rolling!

The Coats for Kids program was run in conjunction with and promoted through the Coyle and Cassidy High School Food Pantry monthly distribution. The food pantry serves more than 200 families each month and has been serving families in the greater Taunton community with compassion and respect for the past 26 years.

In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, Bishop da Cunha, K of C Massachusetts State Advocate Bob Schwarz and his brother Knights, the Coyle and Cassidy High School students and staff all volunteered together to distribute 436 new winter coats to kids in the greater Taunton area. 

It is the hope of the Mansfield Knights that with the continued support of their parishioners and corporate sponsors that they will be able to continue and vigorously expand this vital program within the Diocese of Fall River in the years to come.

© 2019 The Anchor and Anchor Publishing    †    Fall River, Massachusetts