A 9-year-old girl who asked if she could buy a pair of shoes for a schoolmate who couldn’t afford his own inspired her mom to take advantage of Payless’ going-out-of-business sales. The pair bought out all 1,500 shoes at a shuttering location to give away to other children in need.
Carrie Jernigan, from Alma, Arkansas, now has a basement packed with boxes and boxes of shoes, as well as hundreds of backpacks, socks, books and numerous back-to-school products. Other do-gooders in her community gathered the supplies in preparation for a community donation celebration next month.
“We’ve got a bounce castle, face-painting, balloons,” Jernigan told InsideEdition.com. “Anyone who wants to come that day, we’re going to load them up with school supplies. Get these kids all ready for school that begins three days after that.”
Rallying the community
But Jernigan, who is also the head of the local area school board, said she had no idea her small good deed would become a huge community initiative to help one another.
” I was just looking for a place to set up on one of our roads to hand out boxes of shoes to people– it seemed like a good idea at the time,” Jernigan explained. “People kept trying to donate more money, and now it’s turning into a huge back-to-school bash.”
She described all of it started earlier this summer when she brought her three kids to a neighborhood Payless store to buy some sandals before they went away on holiday. Jernigan said she knew for a while the chain was closing. She hoped to get some good deals for her family.
As they got ready to complete the purchases, her oldest daughter Harper, 9, told her mom she noticed a pair of “Avengers”-themed sneakers.
“She named a little boy and said, ‘His shoes looked worn out lately, and I don’t think he can afford a new pair of shoes,'” Jernigan remembered.
Jernigan instantly agreed to purchase an extra pair of shoes, then jokingly asked the clerk how much it would be to buy out their inventory.
Buying out the stock
The salesperson, however, hoped she was serious and took down her number to pass along to a manager. The manager ultimately called her and negotiated on the remainder of the shoes.
“After some back and forth, we made a deal to buy out the rest of their shoes,” Jernigan said.
She and her kids went to their storage facility the following day with a pickup and boxing tape. They then spent the remainder of the day boxing up the shoes. Although she negotiated with the store to buy out about 350 boxes of children’s’ shoes, the shop got a new shipment that same morning. Jernigan ended up leaving with about 1,500 pairs of shoes, more than 1,000 of which were kids’ shoes.
The family spent the next several weeks sorting through the shoes. Jernigan eventually posted on her Facebook, asking friends if they had any suggestion for where they could drop them off.
The community response was overwhelming. The next thing they knew, they had neighbors handing over more supplies, donating money and offering services. All of this motivated by her daughter’s simple request to assist a classmate who needed help.
“She’s really, really giving and has a huge heart,” Jernigan said.
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