Kicks for Kids hosts back-to-school sneaker giveaway

Photo by Chris Sykes
A group of children hold bags containing the free pairs of sneakers they received at the annual Kicks for Kids Back to School sneaker giveaway at the Nike Store in downtown Newark on Thursday, Aug. 31.
Photo by Chris Sykes
From left, East Orange resident Beatrice ‘Lady B’ Carter of the Kicks for Kids non-profit charity stands with her aunt, Lisa Spann, on Thursday, Aug. 31, in front of the Nike Store in downtown Newark, where her organization had its annual Back to School sneaker giveaway.

EAST ORANGE, NJ — Beatrice “Lady B” Carter, founder of the Kicks for Kids nonprofit organization in East Orange,, was at the Nike Store in downtown Newark on Thursday, Aug. 31, for her annual Back to School sneaker giveaway.

“We’re down here at the Nike sneaker store, where I’m doing my Kicks for Kids event. It’s our third annual Kicks for Kids event, where we give kids back-to-school sneakers to go back to school, and I’m luck and blessed enough to have partnered up with the Nike sneaker store, who is subsidizing a huge portion of the sneakers,” Carter said at the event. “My organization, Kicks for Kids, we pay for it, due to the generous contributions from Go Fund Me. Shout out to the city of Newark, who made a tremendous contribution. If it wasn’t for them, this event wouldn’t even be possible. So I thank … Mayor Ras Baraka and his brother and the community.”

Carter said she was excited about the big turnout for the event, which drew a long line of parents and children waiting to the Nike Store on Broad Street for free pairs of sneakers.

“We have 250 kids here today getting sneakers for school,” Carter said. “I’m excited. I hope that, next year, we will have 500 kids, more contributions and a bigger, better event that can serve even more kids and families.”

Carter was at the event with her aunt, Lisa Spann, and supporters, including Shane Adams and his son, Shane Jr.

Carter was thankful for Spann and the Adams, who helped her distribute the sneakers to the children, and she had an answer to the question of the day: Does having new sneakers make children learn better, as most children believe new sneakers make them run faster?

“It makes you learn better, because of the peer pressure that kids go through now, with new technology and social media,” said Shane Sr. said. “This is something good. It’s definitely something good that Beatrice is doing with the kids. You have kids from all over Essex County here.”

Shane Jr. said his father was right, especially in light of the fact that fashion is still an issue for most schoolchildren, despite most urban districts requiring students to wear uniforms specifically to offset disparities in their family finances that once allowed more affluent students to wear better, more expensive clothing than their classmates, which in turn led to cruel jokes, bullying and other behavioral problems. He said sneakers do matter to school-schoolers.

“Some schools do have uniforms, but that doesn’t stop the kicks. You still have to wear appropriate sneakers,” said Shane Jr., 29, at the event. “No kid wants to go to school wearing sneakers that they wore last year. They’re coming into a new school year and they want to be able to have new kicks, just like the other kids have. The Kicks for Kids program does that. It makes sure that the less fortunate kids have the same outlet that the fortunate kids have. And with today’s time and social media and the Internet and social bullying and stuff like that, it’s really, really deep and just for a kid to not worry about the kicks that they’re wearing, because they’re new kicks and they’re name-brand kicks. It stuns me of the bullying that might go on, even though all of the kids might wear uniforms, but all the kids still have different shoes and sneakers on.”

Carter agreed, saying, “New sneakers make you feel good. … This is what this is about. Making sure these kids have good, quality shoes and Nike has the best quality shoes to go back to school in and they get something they can be proud about. We want them to be successful and get good grades in school and having a new pair of sneakers is one less thing for these kids to have to worry about, so they can focus instead of their studies and learning and getting good grades.”