A mom buys 1,500 pairs of shoes in closing Payless for kids in need

Carrie Jernigan of Alma, Arkansas, took her daughter to a Payless going-out-of-business sale to get her a new pair of shoes. She ended up leaving with every pair in the store.

At Payless, Jernigan’s daughter 4th-grade daughter, Harper, saw a pair she wanted to buy for her friend, whose shoes she had noticed were too small.

“I know he likes Avengers, so I saw some Avengers shoes and I said, “Hey mom, can we get these shoes for one of my friends?” Harper told NBC affiliate KNWA in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

But the mother and daughter realized they didn’t know the shoe size of Harper’s friend.

“I looked at the clerk jokingly and just asked, “How much for the rest of the shoes in here? Just joking,” Jernigan said.

© KNWA Image: Carrie Jernigan

Her joke turned into an idea: What if she did buy all the shoes and donate to those in her community in need?

Jernigan’s ended up buying 1,500 pairs of shoes, in sizes ranging from infants to a men’s 13. She is keeping them in her house for now, as the community comes together to help her distribute the shoes⁠ — and more.

The good deed has snowballed beyond shoes. Now, churches and local businesses are now planning a big back-to-school event to give away the shoes, along with free haircuts, eye exams, and other things children might need as they gear up for the new school year.

“In the grand scheme of things in this country, this is a tiny blip,” Jernigan said. “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.”

By Ben Kesslen / NBC News

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