As always, the line went all the way out the door during the annual back-to-school celebration put on by 100 Black Men of Madison and hosted by Madison College on Saturday, Aug. 10. The event, which began at 9 a.m. at Madison College’s Truax Campus, still boasted a line all the way out the door over an hour later. It was another success in what has been a program of tremendous benefit over the past two decades.
“I’m so proud of the work that we do that helps kids get on the right track,” 100 Black Men of Madison Vice President Chris Canty told Madison365. “It’s been absolutely fabulous. We’ve had a great turnout. We have Middle School and High School, as well as Elementary School backpacks and supplies. What’s been really great are the resource tables we’ve had out here with all the local businesses and resources from Madison College as well.”
In addition to the myriad of supply-filled backpacks being handed out, there were resource tables throughout the Truax Atrium. Kids were able to learn how to vote at one station set up to tally up children’s votes on things like their favorite superpower, what the best kind of pizza is, and whether or not they should have homework.
At the center of the atrium were table stacked high with children’s books. The Madison Public Library was giving away hundreds of children’s books to anyone who wanted them. Many of the books were in Spanish and many of the kids were receiving multiple books at once.
The University of Wisconsin College of Medicine was doing free screenings for asthma, eye and ear checks and giving information for health resources.
High up on a second-floor balcony, Madison College President Jack Daniels took in the proceedings. Madison College had areas set up where kids could learn about the programs that Madison College is offering as well as find resources to help with college affordability. President Daniels called the event “Fantastic” and pointed out that there were 1,500 backpacks and hoped that would translate into seeing 1,500 future Madison College students.
For Canty, it was all about helping kids find the feelings of self-esteem so vital to the beginning of a new school year.
“I think it helps kids get on the right track and gives them the confidence they need on the first day of school,” Canty told Madison365. “Part of the first day is having what you need whether it’s pencils or a notebook. Whatever you need. We wanna make sure they get off on the right foot. The turnout was pretty good. It’s been good since we came to Madison College.”
This is the 25th year that 100 Black Men of Madison have delivered backpacks and supplies to students in need. There were over 1,500 backpacks given away at the event on Saturday. Over the decades they have held the event, they have given away over 33,000 backpacks.
For years, the event was held at Demetral Park on Madison’s east side but was moved into the atrium of Madison College’s Truax campus in 2017.