Randolph County woman fills backpacks, fuels attitude of service

GR8 Acts of Kindness: Suzanne Chester

POCAHONTAS, AR (KAIT) - A wife, mother and grandmother is the Gr8 Acts of Kindness award winner for November.

Suzanne Chester doesn't consider herself unique or special. But Jennifer Reed, the Pocahontas woman who nominated her for the award, most certainly does.

"In the office, she would hear as she was working that a child may not have cleats or basketball shoes, or anything like that and she would just go and purchase them, or order them and leave them there," said Reed, a friend and fellow congregation member at Sutton Free Will Baptist Church.

The church, located outside the Pocahontas city limits, is the location for a meal prepared every Friday for members of the Pocahontas High School football team.

A different person or business sponsors the meal every week.

But, Chester is always involved in cooking it.

"I came in at 7:30 this morning and put the meat on and we cook all day. They get here and in about 20 minutes, they're gone. After we've cooked all day," Chester said with a smile.

A former Pocahontas Junior High School secretary, Chester spent 37 years working for the public school system before retiring.

"I feel like she's blessed a lot of people and she never boasts about it. It's just unseen," Reed said. "She never asks for anything. She never will. It's just the kind of person she is."

Chester noticed that school personnel were struggling to keep backpacks of food full and ready to go home with students at Alma Spikes Elementary.

"It bothered us that these people were holding down their jobs, plus after hours were trying to buy what it takes to put into the backpacks," Chester said.

She recruited friends and decided to take over the program; lifting the burden of responsibility from the school.

But, she also found it irresistible to just buy the basics.

In fact, Reed told us in her GR8 Acts of Kindness nomination that Chester often takes money from her own pocket to give kids a little something extra in the backpacks intended to feed children over a weekend or holiday.

"Sometimes we see things that we know kids would like to have," Chester said. "But, it's not on the list. For example, last week it was cooler. We saw hot chocolate. So, we bought hot chocolate. I bought hot chocolate."

As Chester worked on preparing the meal inside the church kitchen, we noticed that everyone except her was wearing a state play-offs t-shirt in Redskin red. Chester was not.

"A child didn't have one today. So, she left hers at school so he would look just like the rest of them and he would get to participate," Reed said. "That's an example of what she does all the time. She gives the shirt off her back to help."

As the winner of this month's GR8 Acts of Kindness award, Chester receives $408 from First Community Bank, sponsor of the campaign and KAIT-TV.

An additional $200 will be given to the backpack food program that Chester supports with her time and talents. An anonymous donor gave the money to pay for more trips to the grocery store to fill backpacks well into the New Year.

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