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Community comes through for embattled Knights of Columbus Hall

Pool sharks have helped the Gerritsen Beach Knights of Columbus bounce back from a debilitating burglary — and put the club on course toward reaching a goal believed to be unrealistic.

Thieves broke into the group’s Gerritsen Avenue clubhouse between Cyrus and Seba avenues on March 31, taking a safe containing more than $12,000 in donations — but giving participants more incentive to collect more than the $9,800 earned during last year’s Knights of Columbus Raymond A. Loughran charity pool tournament to combat cystic fibrosis.

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

“We had a great turnout,” said Knights of Columbus member Mel Hidalgo. “A lot of people showed up. Usually we get between 30 to 35 people, but this time we had 44 players. A lot of other people came, but they didn’t want to play pool. They just showed up with donations.”

Hidalgo estimates that the Knights of Columbus collected more than $8,000 by April 9. People either paid to play in the tournament or bought raffles for bikes, autographed sports jerseys and sporting equipment.

Hidalgo expects more money to flow in throughout the week and this weekend, when the pool tournament concludes.

“I think we’re really close [to attaining our goal], but we couldn’t have done it without everybody’s support,” Hidalgo said.

The Knights of Columbus may reach its goal, but so far, the police have not. Investigators haven’t caught the thieves who broke into the hall through a window sometime between 1 and 5 am.

Once inside, the thieves ripped out the cables leading to the alarm and ransacked the bar and a back office, takinga computer, money from an arcade machine, and the safe, which 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.

End of the Knights of Columbus Raymond A. Loughran charity pool tournament [2882 Gerritsen Ave. between Cyrus and Seba avenues in Gerritsen Beach, (718) 646-9503] on April 16 at noon. One wishing to make a donation to the Knights of Columbus pool tournament can do so by visiting the blog Gerritsenbeach.net.

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