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Members of Knights of Columbus, along with students, from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church collected donations for the Tootsie Roll Drive. Proceeds benefitted Madison City Schools. CONTRIBUTED

Knights of Columbus donate $9K to MCS Special Education

MADISON – Children in Madison City Schools will benefit from the $9,000 donation from the annual Tootsie Roll Drive of the Madison chapter of Knights of Columbus.

The Knights from St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, along with MCS students, collected donations for the MCS Special Education Department. On one weekend, they handed out Tootsie Rolls labeled with the Knights logo and “Helping People with Intellectual Disabilities.” They gathered outside local storefronts, like Walmart, Ace Hardware and IGA grocery. They don’t sell the candy but ask for donations.

The drive both raises funds and awareness of Knights’ work and causes, Jerome Villarreal said. Villarreal is Grand Knight and Intellectual Disabilities Chairman for Knights of Columbus, Council 10232, in Madison.

“The money will be used for special learning tools, educational games, teacher resources, software programs, school supplies tailored to specific motor skills and other items,” MCS Special Education Coordinator Brenda Albritton said. “We appreciate the loyal support from Knights of Columbus for our students.”

“They have a servant heart to donate their time and efforts each year to raise money for this special population. (The Knights are) a valuable partner of Madison City Schools,” Albritton said.

Since 2012, fewer stores have permitted the Knights to pursue their Tootsie Roll drive. “This year’s storefronts went down to zero, given the pandemic,” Villarreal said. “In 2018, we came up with a new fundraising event to supplement the decline in storefront participation, the Tootsie Roll 5K.”

The 5K’s current venue is Bradford Creek Greenway near Heritage Elementary School. “We plan to continue the race and grow it as much as possible,” Villarreal said. “We’re looking for a venue that draws more attention to Madison City Schools (as recipient), like Madison City Schools Stadium.”

In thanking the Knights, Joanna Futch, Pre-K Special Education teacher at Mill Creek Elementary School, said her department bought software to make Pragmatic Organization Dynamic Display books, used with children who are non-verbal, have limited language and struggle with articulation. “Many thanks to you and your crew for all you do for us,” Futch said.

Officers for Knights of Columbus include Grand Knight Jerome Villarreal, Financial Secretary Ron Belz, Deputy Grand Knight Seth Tolson, Chancellor Carlos Fernandez, Recorder Steve Broussard, Treasurer Mike Dauphinais, Advocate Nick Selig and Warden Andy Haq. Other officers are Inside Guard Joey Cook, Outside Guard James Cook, One-Year Trustee Danny Garcia, Two-Year Trustee John Phillip, Three-Year Trustee Joe McCarty, Chaplain Rev. Bryan Lowe and Lecturer Mike Dauphinais. Cameron Ellis is Fraternal Benefits Advisor.

The Knights of Columbus Council meets monthly on first and third Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. at St. John Catholic Church. Because of COVID, their hybrid meetings include limited in-person seating and Webex viewing. “Most importantly we pray,” Villarreal said.

For more information, call 256-722-01308, email KofC10232@gmail.com or visit madison-kofc.org or Facebook.

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