Nonprofit gives Nikes to every student at Grant Elementary

Imagine for Youth Foundation donates 308 pairs and some surprises

Jace, a fourth-grader at Grant Elementary School, tries on his new pair of Nike shoes Thursday, a gift from nonprofit Im
Jace, a fourth-grader at Grant Elementary School, tries on his new pair of Nike shoes Thursday, a gift from nonprofit Imagine for Youth Foundation. (Photo provided by the Cedar Rapids Community School District)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Kindergarten students at Grant Elementary School thought Thursday was the “best day ever” after receiving free pairs of Nike shoes from the nonprofit Imagine for Youth Foundation.

“Kids today who got shoes really needed them,” teacher Paula Teubel said. “I heard one little guy say, ‘I really needed a new pair of shoes.’ They were thrilled, very excited and jumping up and down.”

All 308 students at Grant got a free pair of Nike shoes — of course following social distancing guidelines, wearing masks and using a lot of hand sanitizer.

Santa Claus even made an appearance at the corner of the gym behind plexiglass accepting Christmas wishlist letters through a mailbox.

Students in online-only learning will have the chance to come through the school Friday to pick up their shoes.

Students also each received a backpack, a box of cereal, a coloring book and crayons.

Teubel, a Title I teacher of kindergartners through fifth-graders at Grant, got to help some students try on their shoes for the first time and make sure they were the right size.

“I think everyone at Grant is very thankful and appreciative. It’s very special for our families and with everything going on this year, it’s great to end on a good note,” Teubel said, as students begin winter break next week.


Imagine for Youth Foundation launched in Cedar Rapids last year by donating 250 pairs of shoes to students at Garfield Elementary School.

Andre Dawson, a 2012 University of Iowa football player who works with Imagine for Youth, said the nonprofit — started by Micah Hyde, another former Hawkeye who went on to play for the Buffalo Bills and is a premiere athlete for Nike — has hopes eventually to reach every school in Eastern Iowa.

Dawson handed out shoes at Garfield last year, but because of the coronavirus was unable to hand shoes out to kids in-person this year.

Dawson included an additional surprise for students Thursday — in five of the shoe boxes was a “Willy Wonka golden ticket,” which allows the student who gets it to go to a Footlocker and pick out any pair of shoes.

Dawson hopes the shoes give Cedar Rapids families a little “pick me up” after the derecho and during the pandemic.

Grant Elementary Principal Monica Frey said the gifts bring the first half of the school year to a “wonderful close.”

“They’ve been through so much adversity not only with the pandemic but with the storm, that these kids just need a little bit of hope to carry with them through the holidays,” she said.

Over the past few months, Frey has worked to get the shoe size of every student at Grant.

Although students asked what she was doing, she said she was able to distract them and keep the secret.


This year’s sponsors are CellSite Solutions, IBEW/Fuse, Parks & Schmit Orthodontics, General Mills and Vice Iowa City.

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