“Be nice and kind,” thousands of kids receive back-to-school necessities at River Valley Kickstart


ALMA, Ark. (KFTA) — A local girl’s act of kindness is helping thousands of children be prepared for the school year.

The 2019 River Valley Kickstart was a massive school giveaway at Alma Middle School.

Thousands of shoes, socks, underwear, backpacks, and school supplies were given out. In addition, kindergarten and athletic physicals, dental exams, eye exams, haircuts, and vouchers were available.

Donations poured in from other countries.

“They know what makes a community, and they know that their children are their community for tomorrow,” says Corinna Kellerman, who stopped by with her two kids to get school supplies. ‘They got folders, binder, pencils, they actually got some books, too, on top of it.”

Jerry Martin, the Alma mayor, says he’s proud of his community stepping up.

“What’s so special to me is that so many people, different churches and organizations, and individuals came together to make this event happen. They are all here to serve the community, that’s pretty special,” he said.

The idea for the event started with Harper Jernigan, 9.

Harper asked her mother, Carrie Jernigan, to buy her classmate Avenger shoes while shopping at a Payless that was going out of business. She said she noticed her friend’s shoes were too small, but she didn’t know what shoe size he wears.

“I’m not going to be able to figure out his size because of the time of the year… so I looked at the clerk jokingly and just asked, “how much for the rest of the shoes in here?” Just joking,” Jernigan said.

Jernigan ended up buying every shoe in the store, receiving national attention.

“My favorite part about today is seeing all the people leaving happy with their shoes and backpacks and stuff that they need,” Harper said.

One thousand people waited in line before the start of the event. The line wrapped around the school.

Her mother adds, “seeing the smile on the parents faces, the kids faces, it’s been amazing.”

The motto “Be nice and kind” was written across more than 200 volunteer shirts, a living testament for the Alma community.

“It’s been inspiring, I’ve shed some tears today seeing the response and I’m just praying we have supplies for everybody,” Jernigan said.

Harper says she proud to live in her community.

“‘I’m really proud that I was born here…everybody is so nice in this little town.”

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