Farmington's Knights of Columbus pancake breakfasts raise money and build community
When you're cooking for a few hundred people, you tend to work in large quantities. You beat eggs by the dozen, store French toast batter in gallon milk jugs, and warm syrup in coffee urns. You keep really busy, raise a little money and, if you're doing it right, have enough fun that you want to come back and do it all again.
That's the recipe for the Farmington Knights of Columbus' monthly pancake breakfasts, and it seems to be working.
The KCs hold the breakfasts on the first Sunday of the month from October through May as a way to raise money for a variety of causes. The group's most recent breakfast, held on Super Bowl Sunday, was dedicated to funding a bus the church uses to offer rides to parishioners who can't get to church on their own. Other events have raised money for Farmington's Toys for Town drive, for pro-life causes and for Farmington's annual Patriotic Day celebration, among other causes.
The breakfasts serve anywhere from 300 to 500 people, mostly members of St. Michael's. There is usually a big rush after the morning's first mass and an even bigger rush after the 10 a.m. service. People come for breakfast, and to spend a little time talking with friends they might not see outside of church. At large round tables they chat over pancakes and eggs, French toast and sausage. New groups filter in as people finish their meals and leave.
"It gets people here. It gets them into a warm environment, especially in the winter," said Grand Knight Mike Dow. "It gets all these people together. They're from different parts of town. This might be the only setting where they do get together."
There is no charge for the breakfast, but the Knights collect a free-will offering. Most breakfasts bring $500 to $1,000.
That's not a huge return on the group's investment. The Farmington KCs have about 200 members, but it was closer to 10 who kept things running at Sunday's breakfast. Volunteers seemed to fall naturally into their roles. One battered and cooked French toast. Another flipped pancakes. There were Knights there to crack eggs and clear tables, pour juice and wash dishes. They laughed a lot as they worked.
"If it was easy, anyone could do it," one member joked as he loaded a tray with sausages. "That's why we do it."
For the KCs, the breakfasts are also a chance to have a little fun together.
"A lot of these guys, I only see in our meetings or our fundraising events," said deputy Grand Knight Dave Welch. "It's for charity. It's for the community, and it's fun."