Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill
Menu

Knights bring Christmas to residents with special needs

COLUMBIA—Every year, Christmas comes early for the residents of the Midlands Center thanks to dedi­cated volunteers from the Knights of Columbus.

Located in northeast Columbia, the center is a residence for adults of all ages who have developmental disabilities. It is run by the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs.

For 30 years, the Knights of Colum­bus Council 724 have been throwing a Christmas party for the men and women at Midlands. The event start­ed out small, with just a few people attending, but over the years it has grown into one of the most popular activities there, according to Ralph Giangrandi, who has organized the effort since 1996. He said the Knights start preparing for the party in September.

This year’s function was held on Dec. 10 and drew dozens of resi­dents, staff and family members. As in previous years, the facility’s gym was transformed with holiday decorations, and the men and women received gifts, enjoyed a pizza party and took part in a dance contest. Each resident received a stuffed animal and a donated gift bag con­taining a T-shirt, hat, toiletries and other essentials. They also had a chance to meet Santa Claus, whose arrival was one of the high­lights of the party, and were escorted to his chair by other volunteers who dressed up as elves.

Giangrandi said many volunteers have been helping with the party for years. Knight Sal Anderson donates the clothing each year, for instance, and Rose McManus, a member of the Ladies Auxiliary, provides duffel bags full of gifts.

The community also helps make the party happen. The pizzas are do­nated by Schiano’s, a popular Colum­bia restaurant, and the soft drinks come from a local distributor.

Members of the Knights, the Ladies Auxiliary and other volun­teers shop for and donate the stuffed animals, and youth from St. Peter School and the Columbian Squires help put the packages together.

There is a lot of tradition involved in the event, too. When the Knight who originally played Santa Claus passed away, his wife brought his Santa suit to Giangrandi and he ended up playing Santa for more than a decade before passing the mantle to another Knight, Don Van Borsch.

The party is a chance for the Knights to give a special day to the residents, many of whom have been at Midlands for decades. Each year, Giangrandi said, he sees people who were there when he first started working on the event in 1996.

“Everyone who comes to the party is special, and we’re just providing them some Christmas joy,” he said. “The most important thing is just seeing the appreciation on their faces and the joy.”






  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Jun 1810:00 am Junta Diocesana
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    6:00 pm Crozier Event - St. Anthony of Padua
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 19 Arch Bishop Lyke Conference
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    9:30 am Beaufort Deanery Meeting
    From the Calendar of Office of Catechesis
    10:30 am Crozier Event - St. Peter's - Columbia
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 2011:30 am Bishop - Mass at Pastoral Center
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    6:00 pm Crozier event - Pastoral Center - Charleston
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 219:00 am Bishop - Mass at St. Benedict's - Mt. Pleasant
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 226:00 pm Ordination of the Adorno Deacons - Immaculate Conception - Goose Creek
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 235:30 pm St. Philip Neri - Fort Mill - 25th Parish Anniversary - All day event - Mass at 5:30
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 25 Xavier Institute for Black Catholic Studies
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Jun 276:30 pm Bishop presiding Confirmation - Stella Maris - Sullivans Island
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 288:00 am Mass at St. Patrick's - Charleston
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jun 304:00 pm Fortnight for Freedom - Cardinal Newman HS - Columbia
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Jul 1 Daniel Rudd Fund Application open
    From the Calendar of African American Ministry
    Jul 2 St. Anthony of Padua Summer Academy Holiday-no school
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony of Padua School Greenville
    Jul 4 Independence Day
    From the Calendar of St. Anne and St. Jude Catholic School
    Independence Day
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony School Florence
    Jul 9 Summer Academy Resumes
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony of Padua School Greenville
    High School CLI
    From the Calendar of Youth Ministry