HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) – Giving back to your community and having a good time go hand in hand, especially in the Pine Belt.

Hattiesburg business owner Daniel Cook has 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 varying styles and sizes is the result of Daniel’s latest party with a purpose.

“We host an annual Sneaker Ball event,” Daniel said. “A formal black tie event where guests bring a pair of new or lightly worn shoes. We are raising money for community impact. This year we donated to mental health and wellness, so NAMI has received funds from this, and the Hattiesburg Public Schools are the beneficiaries of the shoes.

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

“I know some families who can’t afford to buy shoes on a weekly or monthly basis,” Aletha said. “So for us to relieve them of that stress, it’s just a big relief. And also, for the kids, knowing that they have a pair of trainers to wear in good weather. Not wearing sandals when it’s about to get cold.

Teachers recently gathered to pack shoes and pack their trunks for delivery to district school counselor offices.

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

“It’s had an incredible impact on the district because they’re investing in our future, and it’s helping us ease the burden on families to make sure kids can come to school and not feel like, ‘I don’t care. ‘don’t fit in because I’m not ‘not having the proper attire,'” Hollingsworth said.

The Cooks said that for them, it’s all about impact, which makes this event grow every year.

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