Gerritsen Beach Knights of Columbus nets $21,000

An annual Gerritsen Beach Knights of Columbus pool tournament exceeded expectations, pocketing more than $21,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation three weeks after burglars stole a safe containing $12,000 in donations

“It was amazing,” said Knights of Columbus member Mel Hidalgo. “We couldn’t have done it without the community.”

Thieves broke into the group’s Gerritsen Avenue clubhouse between Cyrus and Seba avenues on March 31, taking a safe containing the donations. The break-in only fired-up the group to collect more than the $9,800 it earned during last year’s Raymond A. Loughran charity pool tournament.

Starting from zero with only a week left before the tournament, Knights of Columbus members vowed to raise at least $10,000, besting last year’s collection — a promise nearly realized on the first leg of the two-weekend contest on April 9, when the group netted more than $8,000.

The remaining $13,000 was collected during the second weekend as droves of pool sharks and community residents participated in the fund raiser. People either paid to play in the tournament, bought raffles for bikes, autographed sports jerseys and sporting equipment or came in, had a drink, and left some money in a donation plate, Hidalgo said.

The Knights of Columbus reached its goal, but the police have not.

Cops are still looking for the thieves who bashed in the clubhouse window, ripped out the cables leading to the alarm and then ransacked the bar and a back office, takinga computer, money from an arcade machine, and a safe containing the donations that was yanked right out of the office floor and carried away on a dolly.

The crew loaded their loot into a vehicle and drove down Gerritsen Avenue to a nearby library, where they cracked open the safe and rifled through it, police said.

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