Youth Projects

Youth Projects


Boys and Girls Christmas Dinner

The Boys & Girls Club Christmas Dinner is a traditional Christmas Dinner, in a formal banquet hall setting, for young Boys and Girls Club members. The dinner consists of the presentation of artwork from the kids to the club president, sing-a-longs, entertainment, and a visit from Santa Clause!

Camp Eagles Nest

Optimist Club’s across the United States are encouraged to participate in programs that support building awareness of cancer, providing assistance to childhood cancer patients and their families, and supporting research to find a cure.

Johnny Mauer Award

The Johnny Mauer award was named after Johnny Mauer, a former Optimist Club of Knoxville member and football and basketball coach at the University of Tennessee. One of his players and Optimist Club member, Mike Stratton, was instrumental in initiating an award for area athletes who not only excelled on the field or on the court but also in the classroom. The award was later changed to the Johnny Mauer Awards as a memorial to Coach Mauer.

Some notable past recipients have been:

  • Reggie McKenzie, General Manager, Oakland Raiders
  • Holly Warlick,  Head Coach, Lady VOLS Basketball
  • Todd Helton, First Baseman (Retired), Colorado Rockies
Tri Star Awards

The Optimist Club of Knoxville hosts skill competitions in each of the following sports: basketball, baseball, soccer, football, in-line hockey or ice hockey. Each skill offers exciting opportunities to local children to promote self-confidence and physical fitness, as well as have fun.

Youth Appreciation Week

The Optimist Club of Knoxville Youth Appreciation projects are intended to highlight the positive contributions of our youth to society. Since 1956, this program has given Optimist Clubs the occasion to work with youth toward the common goals of education, career development, physical well-being and community service.  During Youth Appreciation Week, the Optimist Club of Knoxville recognizes area youth with the ROBERT H. LEONARD Service to Humanity Award.

Robert “Bob” Leonard joined the Optimist Club of Knoxville in 1950 and had over 56 years of perfect attendance before passing away in 2012. He served as Optimist International President in 1966-67. In addition to his service on a national and international scale, he was a firm believer in giving back to his community and served in many different capacities. Bob Leonard was the first Mayor of the Town of Farragut, being first elected on April 1, 1980, serving a total of six terms from April 1, 1980 until April 23, 1993. He was honored by the Tennessee Municipal League as the Tennessee Mayor of the Year in 1991.

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