When the Richland Knights of Columbus launched its fundraiser to help Ukrainian refugees nearly a year ago, it didn’t expect to get nationwide attention for its efforts.
But it recently reached an important milestone in its campaign.
Council 3307 raised the most money of any Knights group in the country – more than $76,000.
“Of all the councils across the U.S., we have been identified as the No. 1 fundraiser. It put the Tri-Cities, so to speak, on the map, and let the Richland council be known a bit across the other councils,” said Bob Zinsli, a member of the fundraising committee.
The Richland Knights are inching closer to their goal of raising $100,000, thanks to a $25,000 matching fund program.
About 285 men make up the local Catholic fraternal organization, a nonprofit located off the bypass highway at Van Giesen Street.
Zinsli, a retired engineer manager, has been a Knight since 1961 and is the second oldest member of the Richland council. He has lived in the Tri-Cities for “crowding on 70 years.”
He said local donations go to the Knights council in Poland and then directly to help refugees. Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, sending millions of Ukrainian refugees fleeing for safety across the border.
The money is used to buy food, medical supplies, clothing, religious goods – “whatever the basic needs are for refugees,” Zinsli said.
“It’s getting into the root level of where charity takes place,” he said.
The Knights’ campaign kicked off in spring 2022. One member offered $25,000 to create a matching fund to jumpstart donations.
To get the word out, the Knights handed out brochures at church services, posted information on social media and talked the campaign up across town.
“That started our campaign of fundraising,” Zinsli said.
Donations have ranged from small amounts – coins from children, to $50 and up, to a few $1,000 donations. A few companies contributed.
One donor donated a day’s pay, an homage to the 51,000 or so employees from Hanford Engineer Works who donated a day’s pay toward the purchase of a B-17 bomber in 1944.
Zinsli declined to share donors’ names.
The money raised at local Knights councils will be matched by the national Knights group, up to $500,000.
“This is in response to a massive need. It’s in the millions now, the number of refugees,” said Bill Murray, Grand Knight of the Richland council. “We’re trying to do our part.”
The United Nations reported there are more than 8 million Ukrainian refugees across Europe, including 1.6 million in Poland, on Feb. 7. The refugees seek safety, protection and assistance as the war approaches its one-year anniversary this month.
Catholics were persecuted in Ukraine when the country was part of the Soviet Union, according to the Catholic News Agency. About 9% of Ukrainians are Catholic.
Every dollar donated has an immediate effect, and 100% of every donation goes directly to those in need, Murray said.
“Not one penny is there in transfer fees or management fees. It will all go to Ukrainian refugees,” said Murray, a Knight for about 20 years and a retired Richland School District band director.
The Richland Knights will suspend their local fundraising campaign once they’ve raised $100,000, but Zinsli said the national Knights effort will continue as long as there’s a need in Ukraine.
How to donate to Ukraine Solidarity Fund
In the notes/memo field, write:
“Ukraine Fund Council 3307” and send to:
Knights of Columbus
c/o Council 3307
2500 Chester Road
Richland, WA 99352
All donations are tax-deductible.
Daily and Monthly NewsSign up now!