More coats, more counties, more kids: Knights of Columbus expand winter clothing drive |

More coats, more counties, more kids: Knights of Columbus expand winter clothing drive

Mike Kramer, co-chair of the Knights of Columbus’ annual Coats and Clothing for Kids Campaign, takes a platform truck full of boxes for the group’s annual drive out of Walmart on Thursday.
Eli Pace /

Warming the children

The Knights of Columbus’ annual Coats and Clothing for Kids Campaign has expanded from Summit, Lake and Grand counties to also include Jackson and Gilpin Counties. The drive depends on community support. Below is a list of where that support comes from.

• St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church

• Walmart Community Grant

• The Summit Foundation

• The Rotary Club

• Dillon Ridge Liquors

• Base Camp Wine and Spirits

• Resort Real Estate Experts

• Krystal 93

• Whole Foods

• Summit Daily News

• Donations from private individuals

Source: Knights of Columbus

The Knights of Columbus wheeled three platform trucks out of Walmart late last week, their latest haul for the group’s most ambitious Coats and Clothing for Kids Campaign to date.

The annual clothing drive for children in need, which has grown to cover five counties, has come a long way since the first one seven years ago, when the Knights ordered about 20 boxes of winter coats through the national organization. That year, they gave the coats away at Our Lady of Peace church in Silverthorne and quickly decided that they needed to do more.

“What we noticed in the first year,” campaign co-chair Mike Kramer said, “was that little children were showing up with their families, and we didn’t have anything for the little children.”

Feeling like the program should “take care of the little ones and their needs, as well as their bigger brother and sisters,” the Knights started buying winter coats for a wider age range, and they expanded the program to cover hats, gloves, snow pants, boots and other cold-weather necessities.

That’s also how they got involved with Walmart, Kramer said, which has since boosted the annual drive with one of it’s community grants and helped the Knights make large purchase orders.

On Thursday, after cutting Walmart a check for more than $13,000, the Knights left the store with 50 boxes or more loaded onto three metal platform trucks, each with boxes stacked about as high they could go.

“That was a lot of fun,” Kramer said of the work, adding that the smiles he sees afterward aren’t limited to the children who receive the clothing or the families who otherwise might not be able to afford new garments.

Instead, Kramer enjoys seeing the campaign spread good tidings across the whole spectrum — from the teachers who help identify the children in need to the store workers pack up the apparel.

“The program affects a lot of people,” he said, “not just the recipients.”

What’s more is the trip to Walmart only supplemented 32 boxes of winter coats that Kramer had already ordered through the national organization. With a dozen coats per box, it all adds up pretty quickly.

And so this year, with approximately 2,500 new winter clothing items, the Knights will push them out to more than 2,000 children across the five counties — including Summit, Lake and Grand with new efforts to expand into Gilpin and Jackson this year.

The wither clothes are being distributed through 14 schools in the five-county area, along with the Head Start and Adopt an Angel programs, the Gabriel House Project and through the Family Intercultural Resource Center in Silverthorne.

“It’s mushroomed, and we’re happy to be able to do it,” campaign co-chair Larry Furrer said of how quickly the annual campaign has grown. “That’s what the Knights are all about: We’re all about charity and raising money to give that money back to the people in the community.”

Helping with the deliveries, Furrer has an appointment to drop off seven boxes today at FRIC. Summit Cove, Dillon Valley and Silverthorne Elementary have already got theirs, and the Knights will head over to Granby on Tuesday with so many boxes that they’ll need a horse trailer to haul them.

“We can’t it them in three vehicles,” Kramer said of the load.

The Coats and Clothing for Kids Campaign is a year-round drive that ramps up in late summer and early fall, about the same time children start returning to school and thermometers drop. To pull it all off, the Knights need to raise about $30,000, all through donations. Every cent received is used to purchase clothing. If someone is interested in supporting the campaign, they may make tax-deductible donations payable to: Knights of Columbus, P.O. Box 3673, Dillon, CO 80435. For more info, call Kramer at 970-468-6566.

“It’s incredible,” Furrer added. “This community is very generous in terms of how they support various activities, and we are just one of them. But the support we get is very, very good support.”

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