Ottawa Knights of Columbus donates more than $10,000 to Friendship House

Funds raised in Tootsie Roll sales

Friendship House Executive Director Tony Barrett accepts a $10,852 donation from Knights of Columbus Grand Knight Kevin Schultz.

All those Tootsie Rolls sold by members of the Knights of Columbus have paid off, with Grand Knight Kevin Schultz presenting Ottawa Friendship House with a $10,852 check Thursday morning.

Friendship House Executive Director Tony Barrett said the Ottawa Knights of Columbus has donated more than $65,000 to Friendship House in the last nine years. In the last decade, the Knights of Columbus has donated more than $70,000.

Schultz said the donations are raised from the annual Tootsie Roll sale, in which volunteers stand on the street corner collecting donations from motorists in return for a Tootsie Roll or two, along with private donations from Knights of Columbus members.

“Volunteers spent two days out on the streets and in front of stores here in town with a little canister all while handling the weather conditions and avoiding traffic so they don’t get killed,” Schultz said. “Rain or shine, they’re out there. We last went in September and it was 90 degrees out on Norris Drive for two full days, it was like my bald head got baked.”

These donations go to helping Friendship House provide support for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Donations help improve the quality of the homes, kitchens and vehicles the organization is able to provide.

Barrett said Ottawa is a generous community that has embraced the Friendship House for 55 years, and the Knights of Columbus have made it clear how important the Friendship House mission is to them. The K of C even include Friendship House residents when they collect donations.

“The residents do a fantastic job,” Schultz said. “They’re so excited to do it and wherever they are stationed is usually one of the better spots for donations. People in Ottawa are awfully generous, and it’s nice to have the residents involved.”

Schultz said Handy Foods, 604 W. Main St., in Ottawa, has always been a prime location for collecting Tootsie Roll donations, and owners Bonnie and her late husband Larry McGrogan have been donors and supporters for many years.

The Marseilles Knights of Columbus also made a donation to Friendship House of more than $2,000.

Friendship Village was officially founded in 1966 but existed before that as the Echo School. It was founded by Jane McCormick, who told doctors that her son, Bobby, could learn and be a productive member of society. McCormick worked tirelessly to support his education and growth, and proved that anyone can be a productive member of society with the right support.