‘Shoes for School’ succeeds — for 17th year!

Pamela Garcia enjoys the fire hat she received at Shoes for School this past Saturday. (Photo by Lydia Bailey.)

East Knoxville’s Caswell Park was filled with about 7,000 people Saturday morning as the Knoxville Area Urban League held its 17th annual “Shoes for School” event to distribute athletic shoes and school supplies to students on the last weekend of summer vacation.

The event, with Covenant Health as its largest underwriter, distributed more than 1,500 pairs of shoes to children who had been pre-qualified by area civic organizations. About 4,000 picked up all kinds of school supplies and enjoyed hot dogs, snow cones, games and other activities on a beautiful day.

“Sending kids back to school with new shoes and the supplies they need for the year is a morale boost for the kids and removes a financial hardship for parents,” said Phyllis Y. Nichols, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League. “We thank every partner, including Covenant Health – our presenting sponsor for the second year in a row – every volunteer and every person who made this possible. Smiles all around indicate that we’re doing the right thing.”

Gary Young was giving away superhero capes at the Covenant Health booth.

Gary Young, manager of community outreach for Covenant Health, said, “Part of Covenant Health’s mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities we serve, so we welcome the opportunity to serve local families through ‘Shoes for School.’ The Knoxville Area Urban League executes a fun and engaging event every year, and it’s encouraging to see so many local volunteers and businesses willing to support our students as they head back to school.”

The festive atmosphere featured 34 booths sponsored by local businesses, civic and nonprofit organizations, church groups and others. The event is a community effort that families and volunteers eagerly anticipate each year.

“Amazing things can happen when we all do our part,” Nichols said. “The smiles on the faces of children make every moment worth it.”

Urban League CEO Phyllis Nichols opens Shoes for School by releasing a few balloons.

The balloon release opening the event was substantially scaled down this year from previous years when hundreds of people released hundreds of balloons. “We wanted to be more mindful of the impact we were having on the environment,” Nichols said. “Plus, there’s a helium shortage!”

Hundreds of people lined up at Caswell Park prior to the 9 a.m. start of Shoes for School.

First stop: school supplies.

Is 9:30 too early to eat a hot dog? Nah. Here’s Evelyn Dougherty of the Liberian Association of Knoxville helping with distribution.

Atreyu Cuberson was pleased with his new bright blue shoes. (Photo by Lydia Bailey.)

Edgar Eduardo-Bartolo liked his red ones, as well.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bounce house was a hit, of course!

Realtor Nikitia Thompson was giving out pencils and crayons.

Lyndsay Zachery of U.S. Cellular was giving out toothbrushes and toothpaste.

Phyllis was giving interviews! Here, she’s talking to Hallerin Hilton Hill of WOKI-FM, NewsTalk 98.7.

The folks at Knoxville Utilities Board had a very popular booth. From left, Kristi Harper, Michele Daniel, Chelsie Anderson, LeJuan Gordon and Trina Gallman.

Here’s why! As the sun climbed higher and the humidity picked up, these fans were lifesavers!

The Master Academy of Barbering provided free haircuts.

Angel Thompson and Khai’ryn Collins trying on their new shoes.

Keli Burroughs of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital with some school supplies she was distributing.

Haha. Love this. Vulcan was giving out stress-relievers shaped like construction helmets.

From left, Andrew, Micah and Zachary Ceta. (Photo by Lydia Bailey.)

Brianna and Tavaris Bogan. (Photo by Lydia Bailey.)

Harminie Tuggle had some very snazzy shoes.

The Knoxville Fire Department was there! Firefighters Bobby Medders, left, and Justin Chambers passed out rulers, among other things. (Photo by Lydia Bailey.)

Here’s Phyllis Nichols with Maria McHale of Moxley Carmichael. I appreciate both Maria and our co-worker Lydia Bailey for pitching in on a Saturday morning. (The Knoxville Area Urban League is one of our pro-bono clients and we are passionate about the important work they do.)

Just a wonderful and uplifting day.


About the Knoxville Area Urban League: Since 1968, the Knoxville Area Urban League has assisted disadvantaged people in attaining social and economic stability and self-sufficiency through direct services and advocacy. The League works to provide a skilled and diverse workforce; to increase home ownership; to support economic and small business development, and to enhance education efforts for young people. The Knoxville Area Urban League is a United Way partner agency and affiliate of the National Urban League.


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6 Responses to ‘Shoes for School’ succeeds — for 17th year!

  1. Phyllis Nichols, on August 6th, 2019 at 2:03 pm said:

    Thank you to the Moxley Carmichael Team for helping us share the story of why Shoes for School is so important. You capture the faces of the kids, the volunteers and the sponsors who come together to make such a huge impact. Thanks to every donor – large or small- who helped!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on August 6th, 2019 at 2:20 pm said:

    Phyllis: Thank you for making it happen. It’s truly a privilege to be a part of it. Those kids. Wow.

  3. Maria Cornelius, on August 6th, 2019 at 4:36 pm said:

    This is how you make a difference. Phyllis and her whole squad do a fantastic job.

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on August 6th, 2019 at 4:42 pm said:

    Maria: You are right.

  5. Cindy Hassil, on August 6th, 2019 at 5:20 pm said:

    This is such a feel-good event and does wonderful things for the community! I appreciate that there’s a concern for the environment, but any balloon release is a threat to the health and safety of wildlife. Hope that next year there will be something else that’s fun, visible and earth-friendly to kick off the event! So happy the event was a big success!

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on August 6th, 2019 at 5:24 pm said:

    Hey, Cindy: I understand that something is in the works that would not involve any balloons at all.

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