Pine Belt entrepreneur hosts ‘Sneaker Ball’ to give back to community

Giving back to your community and having a good time go hand and hand, especially in the Pine Belt.
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 8:33 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Giving back to your community and having a good time go hand and hand, especially in the Pine Belt.

Daniel Cook, a Hattiesburg business owner, used his event planning business to create a way to combine fun and charity through an annual event - the Sneaker Ball.

Sorting through dozens of shoes of various styles and sizes is the aftermath of Daniel’s latest party with a purpose.

“We host an annual Sneaker Ball event,” Daniel said. “A black-tie, formal event where guests bring a pair of new or gently worn shoes. We raise money for a community impact focus. This year we donated to mental health and wellness, so NAMI was a recipient of funds from that, and Hattiesburg Public Schools are the recipients of the shoes.”

From high tops to running shoes and even some razzle dazzle, Sneaker Ball creators Daniel and his wife Alethea Cook set the bar high to help children in the Hattiesburg Public School District and its surrounding community.

“I know some families they can’t afford to buy shoes on a weekly, monthly basis,” said Aletha. “So, for us to relieve that stress off them, it’s just a big relief. And also, for the children, knowing that they have a pair of sneakers to wear for the right weather. Not wearing sandals when it’s getting ready to turn cold.”

Teachers recently gathered to bag the shoes and pack their trunks to deliver to school counselors’ offices across the district.

Hattiesburg School District’s social worker Sade Hollingsworth said that the children’s needs vary throughout the school year, from school supplies to clothing and even counseling to help in different areas like social work. She also said through multiple partnerships with businesses and organizations across the region, the district can meet every need.

“It has been an amazing impact on the district because they’re investing in our future, and it helps us elevate a burden from the families to make sure kids can come to school and not feel ‘I’m not fitting in because I don’t have the proper attire,’” said Hollingsworth.

The Cooks said, for them, it’s all about the impact, which is what keeps this event growing each year.

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