by Andrew Koslosky KGCHS, Contributing Writer

The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) not-for-profit which was created by the U.S. Marine Corps in 1991.  The primary goal of the foundation is to use the gift of a toy to bring hope to America’s less fortunate children at Christmas time.

Since its inception the program has distributed almost 700,000,000 toys to almost 300,000,000 disadvantaged children.

What an amazing commitment by those men and women who have gone to work to protect our freedom, and to make life better for our youth. How proud are we of our Armed Service men and woman…

Here in Pass Christian, Mississippi, the Knights of Columbus Local Council 4472 has taken The Marine Toys for Tots project on for almost 15 years during the Christmas season.

According to Greg Niolet, financial secretary of the local council, the connection of the two programs first started when Former Marine and a Brother Knight of Columbus member, Warren Doussan, proposed it to the local council, and it has been a growing ministry ever since.

Brother Knight Rusty Bohn, chairman of the program for the local council, and his team distributed and later gath- ered the Toy collection boxes throughout the local community and at the St. Vincent de Paul school.

On Saturday evening December 9, 2023, The Council held its annual Toys for Tots dinner at the Pass Christian Yacht Club.  It was at this event that the many donations of toys and bicycles were transferred to the local representatives of the United States Marine Corp. for eventual distribution.

The dinner was attended by many local VIPs and in the words of Grand Knight John Putnam, “was a huge success… being our biggest one yet.”

The Mayor of Pass Christian, the Honorable Jimmy Rafferty, was in attendance, taking the time to visit many of the tables and thanking everyone for all their hard work and donations to the Toys for Tots program this year.

The night was one full of Holiday cheer as the Yacht Club put its best foot forward with a wonderful meal and presentation.  It was certainly a good time had by all, and something all community members should consider next year for the program.

It served as a wonderful example of how a community can come together and do wonderful things while having a good time doing it.

The Knights of Columbus are extremely active during the holiday season in caring for those who are in need. Recently, the National Council announced they had raised nearly $800,000 for the Coats for Kids Fund. Whether it be a national drive like the Coats for Kids program or a simple Fish Fry, or holiday trip for the altar servers by a local chapter, this amazing Fraternity of over 2 million men has been a constant presence and support for those in need in our communities.

Founded in 1882 as a Catholic Fraternity order, and based on the principles of charity, unity and fraternity, the Knights of Columbus follows the vision of its’ founder Father (Fr.) Michael J. McGivney.

Fr. McGivney, an Irish American Priest based in New Haven, Connecticut, founded the organization at a local parish for the protection and support of widows, orphans, the poor, particularly immigrants and their families.

The organization has developed to this day where it is the world’s largest Catholic fraternal organization.

Fr. Michael J. McGivney is now Blessed Fr. Michael McGivney, with the hope that in the near future he will be raised and recognized by the Catholic Church as Saint.

There are many reasons to become a member of the Knights of Columbus…and their work during the holiday season is a wonderful advertisement for those men who are looking to make a difference in the lives of those in need throughout the community.

Consider calling any of your local parishes or priests and ask how you can join this special fraternity.

You will be happy you did, as the rewards are immeasurable for the community.