DISTRICT HEIGHTS, Md. (DC News Now) — Hundreds of students and parents stood in line waiting to get fitted for a brand new pair of sneakers on Saturday for the first “Sneaker Fest” at First Baptist Church of District Heights.
“This is what the church is all about serving our community, making sure people have what they need, making sure people are able to have the shoes that they need and the supplies that they need for a great year of school,” said Pastor Bobby Manning.
The event was in collaboration with two other churches in the area, New Vision church, Hemingway Memorial A.M.E., and Foot Locker.
“I remember what it felt like going to school. First day of school with a fresh pair of kicks. And so I wanted to make sure that every kid in our community could go to school with that feeling,” said Manning.
After registering, students picked from 400 pairs of brand-new sneakers. Parents say getting a free pair of shoes to relieve financial pressure.
“It relieves a lot, some families it’s still COVID and the pandemic, it shot everybody down. So just for churches to come together and be a blessing to others and parents to let their kids go to school looking nice and no one teasing no one. It feels great,” said parent Anita Miller.
“it just brings my heart joy to see the little ones get to pick out a sneaker and not use money or use mommy or daddy’s money to get a pair of sneakers, brand new sneakers. So if this is just awesome,” said Cynthia Miller, Mayor of District Heights.
The event also had food, music, games, horseback riding and so much more.
“We want people to feel at home with us. We want people to feel that this is a place that they can come where they can receive that what they need, but also enjoy time again,” said Manning.
With help from donations from church members, leaders in the community, and church donations, they also gave away more than 500 bookbags with school supplies, and 100 gift cards for anyone who did not get a pair of sneakers. Organizers say seeing the smiles on each kid’s face was very rewarding.
“I’m happy that we can be a blessing to someone else, especially children,” said Edwards.