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Knights raise money for several charities

Kaitlynn Riely | Thursday, February 12, 2009

There’s a lot of money in steak sandwiches, at least when you sell them prior to Notre Dame home football games.

The Notre Dame chapter of the Knights of Columbus made a profit of $48,325 during the 2008 football season. The Knights, a fraternal service organization, are currently in the process of distributing these funds to several charities, as they do every year.

Grand Knight Jim Redden said the 2008 profit was good considering there was one fewer home game than recent years, and that the weather was rainy the day of the Michigan game.

On a football weekend with good weather, they sell about 3,000 steaks, said Redden, a junior at Notre Dame.

“People buy them faster than we can make them, so there’s always more of a demand than we can get them cooked,” he said. “So one of the challenges is to get started early enough that you can make enough of a reserve in order to feed the lunchtime crowd. One of the big selling points that we advertise is that 100 percent of the profits go to charity.”

The four largest charities that receive money from the Notre Dame council are Corvilla, Inc., a South Bend organization that provides homes for mentally and physically handicapped adults; Gibault, a school founded by the Indiana Knights of Columbus for troubled teens; Andean Health and Development, a healthcare society founded in Ecuador by 1984 Notre Dame graduate Dr. David Gaus and University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh; and the James Karaffa Business Academy for Women in Nairobi, Kenya, a mini-business school that teaches women to make a living for themselves and their family. Smaller amounts of money are distributed to other charities, Redden said, but those are the top four.

Redden is not sure who first came up with the idea to sell steak sandwiches, but he said it has become a “staple” of Notre Dame football games. In the morning and afternoon before kick-offs in the fall, lines of people stretch down sidewalks next to the Knights of Columbus building on South Quad to wait for the Knights’ signature sandwich.

“We have literally been doing this since the early 1980s,” Redden said. “We have pictures and records that go back of a group of kids who basically just thought it would be a good idea to raise money for the Corvilla House.”

Over the course of a season, about 100 members of the Knights work the concession stand. They set up at 7:30 a.m. Saturday mornings, light the grills by 8 a.m. and have the first steaks ready for sale by 9 a.m.

For $6, a person in line can get a sandwich and a drink.

“You get lots of people that say this is their first time and they’ve heard about the steak sandwiches, and they heard they have to get the steak sandwich, and then you’ll get people who have been coming here for 10 years and always get a steak sandwich and they love it,” Redden said.

Since 2003, the Knights have given $287,844.49 to charity from steak sales. The steak sandwiches have been so popular that this year, the Knights are bringing steak sandwiches to spring semester.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, the Knights are selling “steak grams,” steak sandwiches that can be purchased in advance at tables in the dining halls and LaFortune. They will be delivered Sunday from 1-3 p.m.

“What would a guy rather have?” Redden asked. “A steak sandwich or a piece of candy?”

Redden said they will donate money from these sales to charity if they make a profit.

The Knights of Columbus are 200 members-strong at Notre Dame, according to the listserv, Redden said. The requirements to join the society are that the person must be male, Catholic and at least 18 years old.