Gr8 Acts of Kindness: Caring neighbors

Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 10:40 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Two Caring neighbors, Gene and Sandy VanWinkle.

“I was in Japan from ‘56, ‘57, and ‘58,” Leonard Williams said.

Williams is a disabled American veteran who has traveled the world over.

“Been to Bahrain and Oman,” Williams explained.

But Williams will tell you, he could never find better neighbors than the ones who live right next door. That’s Gene VanWinkle on the tractor bush hogging his neighbor’s land.

“He fell and broke his leg, and he goes back and forth to the doctor quite a bit,” Gene VanWinkle said.

Stepping up to help after Williams had an accident.

“Oh, he’s done just a little bit of everything,” Williams said of Gene VanWinkle. “He put this stuff on the ramp here to keep me from sliding down.”

“Yes, I help out. That’s what I try to do,” Gene VanWinkle said.

“I tell you what...every time we need something, he’s here,” Leonard Williams said.

Taking care of what needs to be done--from plowing land up for a garden.

“Dug it up for them,” Gene VanWinkle said. “They planted it themselves.”

To checking on Williams’ wife, Georgia, after a cough that just would not go away.

“I’ve been checking on her because she’s got a bad cough,” Sandy VanWinkle said.

“Then she checked my heart, and she checked my lungs,” Georgia Williams said.

Sandy VanWinkle, like her husband, just wants to help.

“I was a nurse,” Sandy VanWinkle explained. “Went through Black River Tech.”

She cooks for her neighbors, too.

Sandy VanWinkle sends plates full of food to the Williams and Darrell Melton whose wife is homebound just down the road.

“My wife, she is not able to get out of the house anymore and they know I can’t cook...not too good anyways,” Darrell Melton said.

Melton and Williams wanted desperately to thank the VanWinkles for the many ways they step up to help their neighbors.

“See all of that?” Williams asked. “He helped trim all of that.” Williams gestures at the lane in front of his house.

So, they nominated the husband and wife for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.

“I don’t know...” Georgia Williams shakes her head. “You don’t find people like this very often anymore.”

“He brought us a ham over for Thanksgiving,” Williams said.

Earlier this month, a family and friends gathered inside the Maynard Community Center.

Cars filled the parking lot.


For two of the most giving and unsuspecting people...

“It’s hard to surprise you because you are always on the go... always doing things for someone else,” I said to the VanWinkles.

The VanWinkles unsure of what all the fuss was about...

“You are the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness!”

“I almost cried,” Gene VanWinkle said.

But seeing all their friends inside the room...

“Nobody has ever done anything like that for me,” Gene VanWinkles said.

It tugged at their heartstrings...

“Three hundred. Four hundred, five, six, seven, eight. $408,” I counted into Gene VanWinkles’ hand.

“It’s what neighbors are for,” Sandy VanWinkle said.

“You help your neighbors and most of the time, they’ll return that help,” Sandy VanWinkle said.

If you know someone like the VanWinkles, nominate them for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.

Easy to do. Just go to our website:

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