Youll be seeing men in yellow this weekend at the doors of several Hays businesses, their outstretched hands filled with candy.
Not to worry. These volunteers are members of the seven local Knights of Columbus councils working the 47th annual K of C Tootsie Roll Drive.
The drive dates are the same across Kansas, Friday through Sunday, Oct. 13, 14 and 15.
Proceeds are for the benefit of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Twenty percent of the money goes to the state Special Olympics basketball tournament held here in Hays, according to Hays drive chairman Dave Dunn. The remaining 80 percent comes back to each local council which decides the groups it will go to. The Hays Knights distribute their funds among Bethesda Place, the Arc of Central Plains, and Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas (DSNWK).
The event has allowed DSNWK to create a special fund.
For many years, the generosity of the Knights has allowed us to offer additional support to those we serve through a variety of ways, said Steve Keil, director of development for DSNWK. One of those ways is DSNWKs Consumer Medical Fund established with the contributions from the K of C Tootsie Roll Drive. This fund assists our people with the cost of medical items and care not covered by Medicaid such as dental expenses and adaptive equipment.
Every year we raise about $15,000 locally. Last year each Hays council had $1,710 to give out, Dunn said. In addition to the donations from individuals in exchange for the Tootsie Roll, local businesses also make outright donations, usually about $4,000, he calculated.
The seven Knights of Columbus Councils in Ellis County are associated with Catholic churches at Fort Hays State University, Schoenchen, Munjor, and Catherine, along with three in Hays.
Dunn estimates there are more than 1,200 local K of C members. The membership skews older but we have a number of younger guys coming in at each council.
Its the younger guys who will be posted at the Hays locations including Walmart, Dillons, Cervs and churches after Masses.
Dunn has chaired the Tootsie Roll Drive since 2002. A couple of years ago, I was working the final shift, 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon, and my donation can was stuffed just as full as it for the first two hour shift on Friday. People are generous.