Knights of Columbus in the Diocese of Camden and beyond are continuing their support of war-torn Ukraine with shipments of sorely needed supplies. Vineland Council #2531 has collected and distributed enough goods to fill four shipping containers measuring 40 feet by 8 feet by 11 feet—14,080 cubic feet in all.
The need is well-documented: In addition to the impoverished who remain in Ukraine, millions of Ukrainians have have fled to Poland. Albert Karwowski, Knights of Columbus District Deputy 59 and a member of the Vineland council, explained that the motivation behind the Ukrainian outreach began when he saw how efficiently the Knights had collected and shipped supplies to Kentucky during last year’s floods.
“Knights all over New Jersey
were collecting and coordinating food and clothing on the council level,” Karwowski said. “People would rather give small donations; they are hesitant to write a check if they don’t know where it is going.”
To assure the containers’ safe arrival in the war-torn region, as well as safe and fair distribution of goods, an international handoff is in order. The goods are shipped to Poland and met by Poland Knights of Columbus State Deputy Krzysztof Zuba and his Knights; transporting it to their country’s border with Ukraine, it is met by Ukrainian Knights and their leader, Ukraine State Deputy Yuriy Maletskiy.
“It’s Knights to Knights to Knights,” Karwowski said.
Knights in Ukraine also benefited from the fraternal connection, he said.
Various shipments have included food, military clothing purchased from a surplus store, baby supplies, even 150 backpacks filled with school supplies for children. The Knight to Knight to Knight transfers are filling a need, but at a high cost.
“It’s an expensive proposition,” Karwowski admitted. “When we first started this, the Knights were charged $2,800 to ship the containers. Now, it’s $8,000.”
The council has shipped five containers to Poland for Ukraine to date. The Knights’ philanthropy will continue, despite the cost, he stated, for the need is still strong and hits close to home.
“My wife Dorota is Polish, and three or four of the guys in my council are also that nationality, including Deputy Grand Knight Henry Michalkiewicz,” he said. “My wife’s and Henry’s families in Poland are housing refugees.
“She just got back from a visit, and she said you see Ukrainian refugees everywhere on public transportation with their children,” Karwowski continued. “They have been there for over a year now and still need supplies. The kids are growing out of their school clothes.”
Those wishing to donate goods are urged to contact their local Knights of Columbus chapter for details. Funds to defray the cost of shipping containers can be sent to Vineland Council 2531, P.O. Box 72, Vineland, NJ 08362-0072.
This content first appeared in Catholic Star Herald.