NEW HAVEN – A police officer’s question at a community event has unfolded into a partnership between the Knights of Columbus and New Haven Police Department as both work to keep children warm.
The Knights of Columbus’ successful Coats for Kids program now includes police officers who will carry coats in their car trunks to distribute as they encounter children and families in need.
The police will give away children’s coats donated by the K of C during the course of their regular activities in the community, according to New Haven Police Chief Dean M. Esserman and K of C Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, who announced the partnership at a press conference Dec. 17.
Although Knights of Columbus councils work with partners in a wide variety of initiatives, Mr. Anderson said, this partnership with the police is novel and a model of cooperation between a private charitable organization and hardworking public servants to help those in need.
Chief Esserman said that the department’s involvement in charitable events and officers’ individual acts of kindness are also routine, but the new initiative in New Haven is a unique integration of charity into daily police activities.
The idea of officers’ giving coats to children who appear to need them was the fruit of a conversation between New Haven Police Lt. Sam Brown and Connecticut Knights of Columbus State Deputy Tom Vita during a charitable event in November in New Haven. Lt. Brown suggested that officers would be happy to give away coats while on routine rounds. The idea has since become a department-wide effort.
Mr. Anderson said the timing was perfect as the weather gets colder and that the Knights of Columbus “are pleased to be able to work on this with the wonderful men and women of the New Haven Police Department.”
“Meeting real community needs in efficient and innovative ways is a hallmark of the Knights of Columbus,” he said.
“The men and women of the NHPD are grateful to the Knights of Columbus for their great compassion in helping us all care for the members of our community,” said Chief Esserman.
All of the coats are donated by the Knights of Columbus. The police officers will have access to a supply of coats to carry and give out without individual authorizations or other red tape, according to Joe Cullen, senior communications specialist for the Knights of Columbus.
The Knights of Columbus was founded in New Haven in 1882 by Venerable Father Michael J. McGivney and has always counted the Elm City as the home of its international headquarters.
The Knights of Columbus has given away more than 230,000 coats to United States and Canadian children since 2009, with 4,000 going to Connecticut kids last year.
The 1.8 million members of the Knights worldwide donated more than $170 million along with more than 70 million hours of charitable service last year alone.