Carrie Jernigan recently took her kids shoe shopping for an upcoming family vacation when her daughter, Harper, brought a pair of Avenger shoes to her. Harper had noticed a friend from school had shoes that were too tight and had holes, and she asked her mom if they could buy the shoes for him.
“I said,’Yes,’ but I looked down and I could tell they were small,” said Jernigan, an attorney for Settle Jernigan Law in Fayetteville, Ark., and member of Kibler Baptist Church in nearby Alma. “I just jokingly said to the clerk, ‘Looks like I may have to buy out all the shoes.'”
The employee at Payless, which was going out of business, laughed and then said, “Would you really consider doing that?”
A few days later, Jernigan found herself with 1,500 pairs of shoes.
Jernigan told her pastor, Lee Denton, that she had bought all the shoes, but she was going to give them away anonymously. She spent most of the summer trying to give the shoes away. However, the new school year was approaching, and she still had plenty of shoes left.
“When I found out Carrie had purchased the shoes back in the early summer, I had mentioned to her that we could make it a big event,” said Denton. “After she shared her initial Facebook post, it went viral within 24 hours, and we were scrambling to decide what, when, how and where.”
Jernigan’s Facebook post was asking for a location where she could set up all the shoes and give them away to the community. It later was updated with details of the River Valley Kickstart that would be held at the Alma Middle School gym — 17 days after the Facebook post went live.
The viral post also got the attention of major national news outlets.
“That first national news story let me talk about God and kept it in the article,” said Jernigan. “That’s when I knew that if MSN on their lead story is me and these shoes and they did not cut out me talking about God, God was going to do something big.'”
Jernigan was also featured on the national talk show “Strahan and Sara,” where they gifted her $30,000 worth of school supplies from Staples. (Watch the “Strahan and Sara” segment below.)
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Source: Baptist Press