If you make a trip to the grocery store on April 29 or 30, it’s likely you will receive a free Tootsie Roll as you walk out. That’s because the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic-based fraternal organization with an active council in White Bear Lake, hosts their yearly Tootsie Roll drive. Nearly four decades strong, the popular event raises money for Northeast Residence Inc. (NER) in Little Canada, a nonprofit that serves children and adults with developmental disabilities.
“Basically, we ask stores in our White Bear Lake, Vadnais Heights and Hugo community if we can stand outside them for a weekend and just hand out Tootsie Rolls,” explains Steve Dettloff, a Knights of Columbus member. Thanks to free-will donations collected during the event, more than $10,000 is donated to NER to fund a wide range of field trips and programs for its residents.
Dettloff, who has participated in every drive since 1998, says witnessing the excitement of NER residents is his favorite part of the event each year. “I always say to my fellow Knights that we should learn from them how to do this, because they’re enthusiastic. They love doing it; they love interacting with the community.”
He also notes his gratitude to the storeowners and community members who each year make the Tootsie Roll drive more successful than the last. As he says, “The people in our community are just so generous.”
The Knights of Columbus
•Started in 1882 by Father Michael McGivney as a fraternal benefits society.
•Founding principles are: charity, unity, fraternity and patriotism. “The greatest one of those four prongs that we serve is charity,” says Dettloff.
•Has grown to over 15,000 councils and nearly 2 million members.
•The White Bear Lake council has about 150 active members.