Kids get shoes, school supplies — and smiles!

Phyllis Y. Nichols, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League, just prior to start of the event.

About 6,000 people packed Caswell Park on Saturday for the Knoxville Area Urban League’s annual “Shoes for School” event, which provided local children with new shoes and school supplies and connected families with valuable community resources. The back-to-school bash — in its 20th year — was presented by sponsors Covenant Health, Pilot Company and TVA.

Knox County students stocked up on items before returning to school today. With the help of community partners, the Knoxville Area Urban League doubled the number of children who received shoes compared to 2021. Nearly 1,700 pairs were distributed to students who pre-qualified with local nonprofits, and the organization estimates that more than 3,000 picked up school supplies.

“We are grateful to our sponsors, booth sponsors, non-profit partners and community for helping us make the 20th anniversary of Shoes for School bigger and better than ever,” said Phyllis Y. Nichols, president and CEO of the Knoxville Area Urban League. “This event isn’t just about shoes – it’s about breaking down any financial barriers for parents so their students can start the school year on the right foot with school supplies and confidence.”

East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Boston Government Services also supported the event. Booth sponsors included Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee, which distributed food and fresh produce to families to prepare for the busy school year ahead.

David Hunt, president and general manager of WBIR-TV, helped with the shoe distribution.

Nurses with New Direction Health Care Solutions administered free COVID-19 vaccinations while Knoxville Area Urban League Community Health Navigators offered educational information to attendees. Additionally, representatives with the Knox County Health Department were on-site to verify which vaccinations children need to start school, as well as where and when to get them.

Attendees enjoyed food, games, inflatables and free items set up by 44 booth sponsors representing businesses, civic and non-profit organizations, church groups and others.

The event is a community effort that families and volunteers eagerly anticipate each year.

“A new pair of shoes and school supplies excite children and inspire them to be more confident and successful in the classroom,” Nichols said. “The Knoxville Area Urban League is proud to put smiles on the faces of deserving students for 20 years and counting.”

Jan Brown of TVA, chair of the board of the Knoxville Area Urban League, helped with the countdown prior to opening of the gates. Folks had been lining up since 6:45 for the 9 a.m. event.

Urban League Board members Gwen McKenzie and Tyvi Small at the kickoff.

Urban League board members shot off “flutter” to celebrate the opening. This was deemed more environmentally friendly than the balloon releases that have traditionally opened Shoes for School. The flutter is biodegradable, I was told.

Here they come!

Look at all those shoes!

Mica Tate of KUB distributing school supplies.

Laniah, Jayah and Brayden Pankey show off their new shoes. (Photo by Allie Clouse of Moxley Carmichael.)

Here’s Candice Champion of UScellular giving away mugs and other goodies.

Big line at the UScellular booth.

Mortgage Investors Group found a fun way to get attention!

And another way!

Dr. Thomas Zacharia, Urban League Board member and director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, working the Urban League booth with his niece, Elizabeth Korah. (Photo by Maria McHale of Moxley Carmichael.)

TVA was giving away book bags. That’s Bert Robinson of TVA.

United Healthcare handed out an item that could be used as a frisbee and folded up into a little pouch, or as a fan! Cute mascot, too!

It was crowded!

Jim Nichols and his granddaughter Delia Toich. He was the official photographer.

More of the crowd.

Brenda Roper works the Urban League booth.

You could get a COVID shot, too.

Arconic had all kinds of school supplies to give out.

Kids with new shoes are what it’s all about. Showing off the goods are, from left, Ka’Jai Sullivan, Kaniyah and Kaliyah McKinzie and Ki’Ajah Sullivan. (Photo by Allie Clouse of Moxley Carmichael.)


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5 Responses to Kids get shoes, school supplies — and smiles!

  1. Maria McHale, on August 8th, 2022 at 2:05 pm said:

    One of my favorite events all year! Good vibes, happy kids and a whole host of energized volunteers from local companies giving back.

  2. Jeremy Cook, on August 8th, 2022 at 5:02 pm said:

    Great event as usual! Super proud of the Pinnacle Bank Team at both shoe booths. Great work team.

  3. Phyllis Nichols, on August 8th, 2022 at 5:22 pm said:

    Thank you Cynthia for capturing the excitement and spirit of SFS. Community, corporate and individuals coming together in service. The Mox-Car Team has been a critical ally every year!

  4. Rusha Sams, on August 8th, 2022 at 6:20 pm said:

    Thanks for sharing this event and this worthwhile endeavor with us. I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of so many.

  5. Cynthia Moxley, on August 8th, 2022 at 8:52 pm said:

    Maria: Thanks for all you did to help. With the event – and with the Blue Streak!

    Jeremy: Yep! Good job by Pinnacle folks!

    Phyllis: it is one of our favorite events each year. Thanks for your great leadership!

    Rusha: Agree. We have a generous community!

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