No, the Knights of Columbus has not taken to selling candy and has no tie to Tootsie Rolls, or any other candy bar, or their manufacturer!
The nickname is due to the nature of the fundraiser, in which Knights distribute candy bars, very often specially marked Tootsie Rolls, as seen here, in exchange for donations used to support programs geared to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities, in particular, Special Olympics BC. Read more about the history of Special Olympics here (PDF file).
Financial support and volunteering with Special Olympics BC is an opportunity for the Knights of Columbus to make a direct impact on the quality of life of individuals with intellectual disabilities, and a meaningful contribution within our communities.
Our athletes are a constant source of inspiration and joy for everyone who interacts with them. Getting involved with Special Olympics BC also offers us opportunities to be more involved as it is one of our cornerstone support programs within Supreme, State and Council jurisdictions. It would also afford us the experience and satisfaction of helping those less fortunate to develop and succeed – in sport and in life! The Knights’ commitment to Special Olympics and to hundreds of grassroots programs for people with intellectual disabilities is an expression of its belief in the intrinsic worth of every human being.
The Knights of Columbus Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities has been in existence since 1970, with many states and provinces participating, both in the US and in Canada, in support of those with developmental handicaps. In British Columbia & the Yukon, this program ran for the first time over one weekend in the 2013-14 fraternal year. Knights of Columbus members from various Councils within Districts give away free Tootsie Rolls and collect donations as part of the Knights’ Province wide effort to collect funds to help people with intellectual disabilities.
While the bulk of the money raised will go to towards funding Special Olympics in BC, and there are about 3,900 athletes in BC, councils will distribute a portion of the proceeds to appropriate disability programs in their local communities.