A word from Phyllis Nichols, Knoxville Area Urban League President and CEO
For most of us, we’ve never had to think about having decent shoes or school supplies. No big deal. They were simply there. But for kids who don’t have them, it’s a big deal!
Last week, I talked about my love of reading and how important it is that parents read to their kids. Research shows that reading aloud to children – especially from birth through age five – plays a key role in a child’s emerging literacy and preparation for success in school.
While I’m guessing that no Education Association or Literacy Foundation has researched the importance of a new pair of shoes to success in school, here at the Urban League we do a little “research” of our own every August with our Shoes for School event.
Shoes for School, a mammoth undertaking that gets bigger each year, provides new shoes and school supplies to about 1,000 area kids who are most in need. It’s a carnival-like atmosphere that includes about 35 booth sponsors and hundreds of volunteers who provide games, food and school supplies to the kids. The crowning prize of the day is a new box of shoes ordered especially for each child. I’ll never tire of seeing the look of delight on the kids’ faces when they tear into their box and retrieve their prized pair of shoes.
Why are shoes important? If you have to ask, you’ve never sat at a desk with your feet tucked far beneath your seat so that no one would notice your worn-out, paltry, little shoes.
A few years ago we got a call from a mother whose son had lost his shoes at the event. She said the poor kid hadn’t stopped crying since he realized his shoes were gone. Fortunately, we found the shoes. The surprising thing about this story isn’t that a boy lost his shoes and he was sad about it. It’s that the “boy” was 11 or 12-years old, not six or seven like we expected. Like I said, new shoes are a big deal.
I realize we’re not changing the world by giving kids in need new shoes and school supplies, but I like to think we’re making a small change in our part of the world. By arming these kids with shoes and school supplies, we’re helping them feel more confident and comfortable with their peers, which is a critical piece of the puzzle.
We’re in the process of signing up corporate booth sponsors, and we still have room for a few more. Participation includes setting up a booth or a tent, providing an activity, a game or something to engage the kids, and giving away school supplies as their reward. This is an excellent opportunity to get your employees/associates/members working on a one-day community service project. Let me know if you’d like more details.
We also need your financial support. Through a special corporate partnership, we’re able to purchase shoes for the amazingly low price of $10 each. Every $10 you donate means another happy child will start the school year “on the right foot.”
Take a quick look at last year’s video for more details.
Shoes for School is an annual back-to-school event that provides new shoes and school supplies for more than 1,000 area children. Each spring, we work with other non-profit agencies to help us identify and register children age 5-12 who most need the help. Purchasing shoes and school supplies for over 1,000 children is a big undertaking, but seeing the delight on the kids’ faces and knowing that providing these basic necessities helps them feel more comfortable and confident with their peers makes it all worthwhile.
Another Great Year!
On August 8th at Ashley Nicole Dream Playground, we were able to provide more than 1200 pairs of new sneakers; and school supplies to more than 2500 area children in need.
We hope you were there to see the many smiles, fun, and confidence in the children! With your support, we will continue to help start the school year off “on the right foot”. It’s not just about the shoes! Thank you to all volunteers, sponsors, donors and you for your support!
For information about 2015 Shoes For School, click Here!
See how those who benefit from the event are impacted!
Watch our video to learn more:
We invite you to support 2016 Shoes for School by clicking the “Donate” button below or mailing a check to the Urban League at 1514 East Fifth Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917.
Another opportunity for involvement is booth sponsorship. Booth sponsors are an important part of Shoes for School. Each year, about 35 organizations – including corporations, sororities, area non-profits, churches and others – host booths that include a game or activity for the kids and give away school supplies. Shoes for School is an exciting, carnival-like atmosphere, and it is an excellent community service/team building project for employees. If your organization is interested in participating or if you’d like more information about 2016 Shoes for School, contact Ola Blackmon-McBride (firstname.lastname@example.org; 865-524-5511).
Here are just a few of the ways you can be involved:
Assist with our annual Shoes for School event.
Offer classroom instruction or give a presentation for one of our budget and credit, home ownership or job readiness classes.
Participate on a committee in support of one of our programs.
Provide office support by answering phones and greeting clients when the receptionist is out of the office, filing and other administrative tasks.
All volunteers must complete our Volunteer application form. When volunteer opportunities arise, you will be notified via e-mail. Thanks for your interest in helping us empower communities and change lives!
Booth sponsorship for Shoes for School. Booth sponsors set up a booth or a tent, provide an activity, a game or something to engage the kids, and give away school supplies as their reward. This is an excellent opportunity for employees/associates/members to work on a one-day community service project.