A Knights of Columbus charity program that connects traditional Lenten almsgiving with the nutritional needs of poor families in the Heber Springs area was a success for the men of Heber Springs Council 12778 this spring. Wes Harris, a member of the local council, suggested the idea to the local Knights of Columbus Council after reading an article in a Knights of Columbus newsletter about asking the church parishioners to donate one can of food for each day of Lent.

The one-can-per-day donation for Lent is inspired by Christ’s 40 days of fasting in the desert. On Palm Sunday alone, food donations filled the donation box, and the program concluded on Easter, when parishioners at St. Albert Catholic Church overflowed the donation box again. The canned food is being delivered to local charity organizations to be distributed to those in need.

 “It was amazing,” said Barry Fiala, Grand Knight of the local Knights of Columbus Council. “We were able to raise over 1,000 pounds of canned food during the Lent season, and we hope the 40 Cans for Lent idea spreads to other local churches. If other churches join in on the 40-Cans-For-Lent program it would really be a wonderful opportunity to help make a big difference in our community."

The Knights of Columbus is the world's largest Catholic fraternal service organization that is dedicated to providing charitable services, including war and disaster relief. Pope John Paul II referred to the order as the "strong right arm of the church." Although Heber Springs is a small town of only 7,200 residents, the membership of St. Albert Catholic Church is 202 families, and Council 12778 hopes that projects like 40 Cans for Lent will attract more of St. Albert's young men  to the Knights to help enrich the lives of donors and recipients alike.