While Black Friday is typically dedicated to consumerism, it’s also when the Knights of Columbus’ annually show the giving spirit of the holiday season.
The fraternal organization affiliated with the Catholic church gives out winter coats to children each year the day after Thanksgiving. This year, the group plans to give out 3,000 coats at its first winter coat giveaway at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Northeast D.C. from noon to 2 p.m. Nov. 27.
Alex Cranstoun, spokesman for the Knights of Columbus, said that people from all over the region attend the coat giveaway for children. Since 2009, Cranstoun said the organization has given away more than 500,000 coats in the U.S. and Canada.
“We have a few principles we stand by, and the main and most important one is charity,” Cranstoun said. “Our goal is to make sure that our communities are able to survive comfortably and we are able to serve them through giving these coats out.”
The coats are brand new and come in a variety of sizes and colors, according to Cranstoun. He said that local Knights of Columbus council’s spend the year fundraising to be able to purchase the coats, and then the local chapters coordinate where to distribute them to those who need them most.
Winter coats are taking on even more importance during the coronavirus pandemic. Health officials see fresh air as one of the better deterrents of the virus, so children with a solid winter coat will be able to go outside with less concern about staying warm.
The second coat giveaway will take place Dec. 5 at Our Lady of Perpetual Health Catholic Church in Southeast D.C.
WTOP’s Dick Uliano contributed to this report.