A new pair of shoes can mean so much to a child in need; allowing them to play, run around and sit comfortably while at school.
For many struggling parents, ensuring their growing kids get a new pair of school shoes come September can be a real source of anxiety.
According to the charitable organisation Shoes That Fit, one out of five American schoolchildren are in desperate need of a pair of shoes; with inappropriate footwear being one of the most ‘visible signs of poverty’ in the US.
A new pair of shoes can drastically improve a child’s school attendance, self-esteem, behaviour and participation in physical activity; affording them dignity and reducing the likelihood of them being bullied or stigmatised.
The power of a good pair of school shoes has been noted by supermom Carrie Jernigan. This remarkable Arkansas mother-of-three has purchased almost 1,500 pairs of shoes from a closing shopping store to give to children in need ahead of the new school year.
Carrie is the president of the school board in Alma, a city located between Fayetteville and Fort Smith, and has noticed a ‘very high poverty rate’ within the area.
Speaking with Fox News, Carrie said:
I’m in the schools a lot and where I live we have a very high poverty rate.
My immediate thought was, this could put so many shoes on kids that would not have new shoes to start back to school.
Inspiration struck when Carrie was out shopping for shoes for her own children. It was then her eldest daughter, Harper, showed admirable empathy; asking her mother to buy a pair of Avengers shoes for a classmate.
Writing on Facebook, Carrie explained how matters escalated from there:
I jokingly said to the clerk, “How much would it cost to buy the rest of the shoes in here?” Next thing I know a regional manager is on the phone asking me if I seriously want the whole store.
I was thinking, “what have I done – Shawn’s going to kill me”. We ended up making a deal for the shoes left which was approximately 400 pairs of shoes.
The very next day Carrie went back to the store and began boxing up all the shoes, when she learned hundreds more shoes had been delivered.
Harper and Campbell immediately say we can’t leave those shoes too. I said, we will open a few boxes, if it’s kids shoes we will try and get it.
We begin to open the boxes in the back of the store and in the loading dock – box after box are kid shoes. Champions, JoJos and every different type of princess and light up shoes you can think of.
After purchasing ‘approximately 1,500 pairs of shoes’, Carrie left the store, with the intention of giving away all the shoes before the start of school.
The thoughtful mum now plans to distribute the shoes at a big Back to School event, which will take place at Alma Middle School on August 10, 2019.
In a bid to buy even more shoes for kids in need, Carrie has started a GoFundMe page with a goal of $5,000.
Carrie told UNILAD how the campaign has received an ‘amazing’ response so far:
It’s going really well. The response has been amazing.
I just always try to follow that the Bible tells us to be the hands and feet of Jesus. So I try to live by that.
What a kind-hearted sole!
You can support Harper Jernigan’s Back to School Shoe Drive here.
If you have a story you want to tell send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.