PORTLAND---For over 40 years, members of Knights of Columbus councils all over Maine have headed to churches, community centers, and other locations carrying cases of Tootsie Rolls they hope to turn into money for organizations helping people with intellectual and learning disabilities.
The Tootsie Roll drive is officially titled the “Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities,” during which local councils collect donations from donors who are offered Tootsie Rolls as a token of thanks.
In 2016-2017, the Maine Knights raised over $85,000 to support a variety of local and statewide organizations and groups in their efforts. The beneficiaries include:
- Special Olympics Maine, which provides year-round sports competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities;
- Riding To The Top Therapeutic Riding Center (RTT) in Windham, which helps people with disabilities reach their highest potential through the healing power of horses;
- the Morrison Center in Scarborough, which provides comprehensive programming, individualized support, and employment services for people of all ages with disabilities;
- the Pine Tree Camp in Rome, which has operated a summer camp for children with physical disabilities since 1945;
- the Elizabeth Levinson Center, which is an intermediate care facility that offers a beautiful home for medically fragile children and adults with significant cognitive and medical needs;
- Waban, which creates programs and services helping those with autism and intellectual disabilities to live the most fulfilling lives possible;
- OHI, which provides support and services in the Bangor area to people with intellectual disabilities, autism, and mental illness;
- the Travis Mills Foundation, which assists wounded and injured veterans and their families;
- Veterans Count Maine, which provides critical financial assistance and services to veterans, service members, and their families to ensure their dignity, health, and overall well-being;
- and the Aroostook Medical Center’s Adult and Pediatric Brain Injury Program, which helps people with traumatic brain injuries and other life-altering circumstances regain strength and productivity.
As grateful as the recipients are to receive the needed funds, the Knights experience the same level of enjoyment in providing them.
“It’s what we do,” said Anthony Alfiero, the community director for the Maine State Knights of Columbus. “In the last year, 57 of our 75 councils in Maine participated. We just want to help people.”