The actions of a kind-hearted mom-of-three have been praised online, after she purchased an entire shoe store’s inventory to donate them to children in need.
Carrie Jernigan, 37, was shopping at her local mall’s Payless ShoeSource with her daughters Harper, nine, and Campbell, six, and her son Amos, four, for an upcoming vacation.
The Alma, Arkansas-native said that her eldest daughter Harper, nine, brought her a pair of Avengers-themed tennis shoes and asked could she get them for a boy in her class who loves the movie and whose own shoes were too tight.
Supermarket sweep: Carrie, pictured, and her daughters Harper, in yellow, and Campbell scooped up 1,500 pairs of discounted shoes which they will donate to their community
Boxes: The family ended up with 95 crates of shoe boxes after nine-year-old Harper, pictured, asked to buy one pair for her classmate
After making a joke that maybe they should buy out the whole store to make sure they got the kid’s right size, it quickly became a reality.
‘I jokingly said to the clerk, ‘How much would it cost to buy the rest of the shoes in here?’ Carrie said on Facebook.
The sales assistant took her query seriously, and asked for Carrie’s number. Later that day, the lawyer received a call from the Payless district manager.
Since the retail business was already in liquidation due to bankruptcy, Carrie was able to buy the whole store.
Hours later, she had purchased 350 pairs of shoes with the intention of donating them all to her children’s school.
She joked to Good Morning America that her initial thought was, ‘What have I done?’
It didn’t stop there either. Another shipment arrived to the store soon after, so Carrie purchased those too. Before she knew it, she had bought more than 1,100 pairs of infant and children’s shoes and over 350 pairs for adults; Princess styles and light up kicks included.
Declining to say how much the total inventory cost, Carrie confirmed that the 95 giant boxes of various shoe styles totaled about $21,000 worth of merchandise – but she bagged them at a discounted price.
Community: Alma, Arkansas-native Carrie said that her initial gesture to donate the shoes has turned into something much bigger for the whole community
Inventory: The family brought home the entire stock, resulting in over 1,500 pairs of shoes
Getting organized: Carrie and her children filled their home with boxes of shoes – with the mom revealing that the haul was originally worth around $21,000 before discounts
Carrie is the local school board’s president and knows first hand how much of a struggle it can be for some families to afford the typical back to school costs.
Every single pair of shoes will be donated to those in need; not just at Carrie’s children’s school but in other communities in Arkansas too.
Carrie, her husband Shawn and their family plan to host a big party before school starts back, making sure that every child has a new pair of shoes before the term begins.
‘In the grand scheme of things in this country, this is a tiny blip,’ Carrie told NBC News. ‘But if it continues to grow and… it makes you do one little thing for that student fixing to go back to school, then it matters to that one kid.’
Inspired by her gesture, the local community church and businesses in Alma are getting on board too. A GoFundMe has been set up to continue the generosity, and people are rallying together to donate more than just shoes.
A man, whom she did not know, even came up to her on the street and handed her $1,000 in cash.
‘He said, ‘I just want you to go spend this on those kids.’ I said ‘Done,” Carrie told Arkansas Online.
Giving: The shoes will be donated to needy children throughout Arkansas ahead of the start of the new school year
Organizing: The Jernigan family home has been taken over by the shoes, which they plan to donate at a back to school drive in August
Range: Everything from Princess shoes to light up sneakers are among the selection
Interview: The lawyer and her daughter Harper, pictured, have been interviewed by news outlets all over America after their kind act made headlines
‘It’s turned into this huge school back to school bash for our community.
‘We’ve had 700 backpacks donated, we have thousands, every school supplies you could need, we have a ton of hair stylists going to do haircuts,’ Carrie proudly said.
‘We’re going to have food, bounce houses, face painting. And it keeps getting bigger,’ she added.
Eye exams will also be available, as will tooth brushes, toothpaste and books.
Lawyer: Carrie is renowned legal professional in the Arkansas city of Van Buren
The event is currently scheduled to take place from 2-6 pm on August 10 at the Alma Middle School.
Writing an update on Facebook, Carrie said that the response has been overwhelming.
‘I have received probably 200 messages from just local moms and dads telling me they are coming to get shoes and will get there as early as they can to to make sure they get a pair.’
‘So many in our community are desperate for new shoes to send their little ones back to school in. If you could see the messages it would break your heart. I do not want one kid to come to this event and we have to tell them we are out of shoes. That thought has consumed me the last few days.’
To prevent that happening, she urged parents to check their kid’s closets to see if there were unworn shoes that could also be donated ahead of the drive.
She even added that people across the country could order shoes online and send them via mail. Monetary donations are also being accepted, with 100 per cent of all proceeds being invested in the drive.