POCAHONTAS, Ark. (KAIT) - COVID-19 has changed so much of our lives--right down to the things that we celebrate and enjoy.
But, we couldn’t let coronavirus stand in the way of recognizing this month’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner.
KAIT and First Community Bank have built a tradition of having big surprises when honoring people in Region 8 who go above and beyond to help others. But, hugs and large crowds are not allowed right now. So, we had to get a bit creative!
You have to get up pretty early in the morning to surprise Jennifer Reed.
She gets to work at the Walmart in Pocahontas by 4 a.m. But, I contacted her store manager, John Parker, and he agreed to help us set up a Zoom meeting.
Jennifer has recently applied for a new position and she thinks that she’s being interviewed for that. And did I mention--she can only hear me? She can’t see me.
“Good morning, Jennifer,” I said to Jennifer. “I understand that you are applying for a new position. Could you tell us a little about yourself?”
Now, the reason Jennifer is in front of this camera is not about her work experience; but thousands of hours spent helping others. She and her husband, Doty, are 4-H leaders, giving time to insure that these kids can show livestock.
Jennifer serves on the Randolph County Fair Board and started a scholarship program that’s raised $30,000 for young people in 4-H and FFA.
"I've heard you pour your heart and soul into giving back to your community," I said to Jennifer through the Zoom call.
Now, Jennifer is sensing something’s up. She looks over at her manager.
"I think you also started up the Pocahontas chapter of Make A Wish? And helped grant Chase McDonnough's wish of building community tennis courts... is that right?" I asked.
“Yes, ma’am,” Jennifer responds. “Well, with the help of Danna Johnson and Christie Matthews and Rhonda Gibson.”
Chase McDonnough suffers with an auto-immune disorder. His wish was to have tennis courts built--not just for himself; but the whole community.
"I have to tell you Jennifer," I start to reveal my identity. "This is Diana Davis from KAIT."
"I had a feeling that was you," Jennifer said. "I just have to tell you that you are the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness!"
Jennifer begins to cry.
"Thank you so so much!" she said through tears.
"I can't think of a better person than Jennifer Reed to receive the Gr8 Acts of Kindness," Christie Matthews, coordinator of the Have-A-Heart Wish-A-Thon for Make-A-Wish said. "She is just a true giver at heart. We have been blessed over the last few years with the Make a Wish Foundation and she has assembled a strong passionate team of individuals."
"If it wasn't for Jennifer, she puts most of it together," Jana Collins said.
Collins is not just Jennifer’s friend. She’s also a co-worker at Walmart and fellow fundraiser for Make-A-Wish. “She does all of the legwork.”
"We have a loving community that gives their hearts out," Jennifer said.
And it was her heart that was touched by one special Wish child named Brenten Cox.
"Those kids just tug at your heart," Jennifer said. "His wish was to meet LeBron James and him and Coach Anderson at ASU were really close."
Brenten fought hard; but did not survive.
"He has saved so many children and opened so many doors for so many kids," Jennifer said.
And Jennifer is right there leading the way!
She raises money for Project Graduation and yes-- she has a son graduating this year in this time of social distancing.
And did we mention she is a part of Relay for Life?
That's not even including her raising over $161,000 for the County Fair's Blue Ribbon Sale.
“Congratulations, Jennifer. I’m Allen Williams with First Community Bank and It is my pleasure to recognize you as this month’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner,” Allen Williams, Community President, First Community Bank said.
"Jennifer, your diligent work with 4-H, Make-A-Wish, Relay for Life and other worthy causes makes you truly deserving of this recognition," David Daniel, Business Development Officer, said.
“From all of us, here at First Community Bank, thank you and congratulations, Jennifer,” Renee Rutherford of First Community Bank said.
Since we are all social distancing, Jennifer will receive a check for $408 to spend as she wishes.
Right away, she mentioned the need to take care of those served by the backpack program, as it’s supplies are running low.
If you know someone like Jennifer, nominate them for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.