Chapel Hill Catholics opened their hearts and donated $3,499 to help our returning veterans, the wounded amputees in North Carolina.

Local effort should fund 20 trips home for Christmas.

The Knights of Columbus through the Divine Mercy Assembly asked the St. Thomas More parish to help them send wounded soldiers and Marines home for Christmas. The target of our project are the Iraq and Afghanistan amputees at Camp LeJuene and Fort Bragg. As of late October, there were 121 Marines and 31 soldiers undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.

This program started last year when the Knights of the Fourth Degree raised $9,000 statewide. That project funded sending 62 amputees home for the Christmas Holidays. This year there are about 145 amputees needing help.

The local Chapel Hill project of Faithful Navigator Lee Heavlin was a simple one. “I want to ask the people of our parish to make a good will offering to North Carolina hospitalized amputees on Veterans Day.” Father John Durbin supported the effort and after each mass made a simple pulpit announcement of the Knight’s intentions. He also asked the parishioners to join in a blessing of all veterans, of all nations, of all wars. The baskets filled to overflowing.

“We had little kids donating their coins,” said Jim Merkle who was watching the basket at the church’s pancake breakfast. “This little fellow came up and dropped in his coins. He just wanted to help.”

“I don’t recall any other good will offering, except for our food for the poor, that has received such strong parish support,” said Lee Heavlin. “The response was far greater than I expected. I even had a few people who expressed a desire to make a larger contribution. Others asked what they could do to send something to the soldiers still overseas for Christmas.”

The Knights of Columbus is working with The Military Order of the Purple Heart (a 501c3 charity). This group is arranging for the distribution of funds to send our soldiers and Marines home. Each dollar collected is matched by the Order, giving our drive a cash value of $7,000.

If you would like to make a donation, make your check out to The Military Order of the Purple Heart and send it to the Knights care of the parish office. We will forward all funds onward on behalf of the parish community. All donations are tax deductible.