BLOOMINGTON – Two Bloomington natives are working to bring the western community together by throwing a block party this weekend to meet the needs of families.
Westside Back 2 School kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Eastview Christian Church, 401 W. Union Street in Bloomington. Everyone is welcome.
Growing up on the West Side, Wyse Food Pantry’s Marty Lane and Jule Foundation’s Andre Hursey were at a block party at least twice a year and saw the small town side of Bloomington.
âWe had a much stronger sense of community because we had adults bringing people together,â Lane said. But today he said, âIt’s missing. â¦ We are seeing such a loss of Bloomington culture where everyone knew everyone, everyone was responsible for everyone and everyone took care of other people’s children.
Lane and Hursey hope to return to what made their community special, provide a fun day for residents, and help as much as they can.
âWe wanted to go back to the basics of what Bloomington really is and what Bloomington meant to us, how we grew up and just try to restart some of those traditions,â Lane said.
The four-hour event will be packed with activities, including a craft area with a sidewalk chalk contest, coloring and other crafts with the Children’s Discovery Museum.
Spencer Johnson, head coach of the Bloomington High School boys’ basketball team, will host hot-shot, 3-point and free throw competitions with all ages, including adults, invited to participate.
Free food will be available on site as well as food trucks, and âicon of the west side,â 9-year-old MaViyah Walker will be on display at Toog’s lemonade stand.
Venture into #entrepreneurship, MaViyah Walker, 7, runs Toog’s lemonade stand near the corner of West Market and North Oak streets in Bloomington, selling tacos, candy, snow cones and of course, lemonade of various types. (Photos by Lewis Marien, Le @Pantagraph) pic.twitter.com/EJAtVL69fT
– Lewis Marien (@LewisMarien) Aug 11, 2019
The “back to school” aspect will be a gift of school supplies and backpacks, as some families may not have been able to find everything they needed in August.
Urban Connections, a retailer located at 1102 N. Hershey Road in Bloomington, donated 200 outfits for the kickoff.
Lane said 500 new bras sizes A through DDD as well as socks and underwear will be offered free of charge. Hygiene kits containing items such as deodorant, shower gel and toothbrush will also be available, “because often the necessities are missed when big things need to be purchased, so we try to meet that need. “said Lane.
They always accept donations of new clothes; those interested can contact Lane at 309-287-4389.
Bringing the People together includes inviting the Bloomington Police and Fire Departments, city officials and members of the area city council.
Watch now: Bloomington-Normal students ready for school with new backpacks in tow
âIt is very important for minorities, police and people in uniform to have a working and functioning relationship,â Lane said, noting that it is vital to build these relationships in his community. âThese two things can work hand in hand: Black Lives Matter and the police are not opposed to each other. We all want the same things. We want the police to be safe; we want our communities to be safe; we want black people to be respected; we want the police to be respected. “
Kids will be able to check out the fire trucks, and organizers hope the officers participate in various aspects of the kickoff, such as basketball competitions, and offer a few rounds of “a cop’s arm.”
And it’s not a party without entertainment, so a selection of local artists will be performing, including the Jump4Joy team and a demonstration from a local personal trainer.
âWe’re just trying to get some of this good old little town back, everyone takes care of each other. You know, the village takes care of the children. We’re just trying to restart part of that, trying to restart the village, âLane said with tears in his eyes. I’m just proud because people really came together.
Next year Lane said that she and Hursey hope to continue events like these: âWe will be working our resources and tapping into our donors and we will continue to bless the community. This is our plan; it is our heart.
Photos: Back 2 School Alliance distribution of school supplies is a big hit with families
Contact Kelsey Watznauer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @kwatznauer.