Over the last five months, Cargill Council 64, Knights of Columbus, has collected 89 pints of blood for the Connecticut Chapter of the American Red Cross.
On Friday, December 4, the Catholic family fraternal group sponsored its third and final blood drive of 2020. Red Cross blood donor teams went to work in the basement of St. Mary Church of the Visitation on Providence Street in July, October, and December screening donors from the public and taking their blood.
The blood drives were the brainchild of Cargill Council 64 Brother Knight David G. Lamontagne, Sr., who proposed the idea and went to work with Red Cross, church and K of C officials to put the collection efforts together. Lamontagne, a Past Grand Knight, serves today as both Cargill Council’s Health Director and its District Deputy.
“Most of us know someone who has been a receiver of blood from a donor; we just may not know who that person is,” Lamontagne said. “As a person who has needed blood in the past and has had close family that needed blood, this is an important cause to me and I am thrilled that people have helped so much, especially in these times we are currently in.”
By hosting blood drives, Cargill Council is carrying on a tradition started by the worldwide Knights of Columbus organization more than 80 years ago. In 1938, the K of C was the first national organization to sponsor a blood donor program, working with local hospitals to organize blood drives in centers set up by Knights.
The program quickly caught on. By the end of 1939, more than 400 local councils had blood donor groups. During World War II, councils ramped up blood drives, joining the Red Cross campaign for 100,000 blood donations to benefit soldiers and air raid victims. Today, Knights of Columbus blood drives collect an average of more than 400,000 pints of blood annually.
Now that the Putnam program has proven successful, Cargill Council has committed to hosting at least four blood drives at St. Mary’s in 2021. The next one will be held on Friday, February 19. Go to www.redcrossblood.org to sign up today.
Lamontagne understands that blood donors are critical to saving lives and protecting health.
“If one of these blood donations helps save a life, then we all have done our part. I cannot thank everyone enough, from the donors, to my fellow Brother Knights for their help and the Red Cross for all their hard work,” he said.
Cargill Council 64, Knights of Columbus, is made up of over 200 local Catholic men and their families. The council serves Putnam, Pomfret, Thompson and Woodstock and the immediately surrounding areas served by St. Mary’s, Most Holy Trinity Church in Pomfret, St. Joseph Church in North Grosvenordale and St. Stephen Church in Quinebaug. It’s one of 178 active local councils in Connecticut.
In addition to support for its members and their families, Cargill Council maintains a dedicated, strong, ongoing commitment to its four churches and the local community. Led by current Grand Knight John D. Ryan, the council’s elected officers run the organization. The Knights do their own fund-raising, using the net proceeds to pay for their programs.
Among its many activities, Cargill Council raised and donated thousands of dollars locally in the last year, as part of conducting literally dozens of positive, local programs and events. Highlights include raising over $5,000 for the local needy as part of the council’s annual “Joe Bousquet Christmas Giving Appeal,” a year-round program for the widows of deceased council members, financial and moral support for a Norwich diocesan seminarian studying for the priesthood, holding a large food drive for the local poor, providing free winter coats for needy local children and families, as well as holding an annual council golf tournament and continuing work to end abortion and assisted suicide and to otherwise support the “Culture of Life.”
By John Ryan
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