Associate Hopes for Sweet End for Back-to-School Drive

By Michelle Malashock
August 1, 2016
Associate Kris Hudson in front of Back to School Blitz sign

Ask Kris Hudson to name the price of a one-subject spiral notebook, and he'll quickly tell you 17 cents. And then add that you can get a folder for 15 cents, a pack of paper for 82 cents and pencils for 47 cents.

Kris, a customer service manager, doesn't work in the office supplies department. He's simply passionate about giving back and has led his supercenter in Bryant, Arkansas, to set a record high for its back-to-school supply drive for the local United Way.

Kris' love for helping families get ready for the school year began when he was in high school himself. He started at Store 3230 in Bryant as a cashier when he was 16 and would use parts of his paycheck to buy small items to donate at his store.

"I don't have kids of my own, but I've seen some struggle to get the school supplies that they need," said Kris, now 19 and a college student. "It was a small act for me, and it was something I could do to help out."

That sentiment caught on at his store. Since Kris started getting behind the school supply drive, donations at his store have grown from 1,000 to 6,000 items for local schools in Bryant.

Shift manager Jeff Cotton called Kris' enthusiasm infectious and said the whole store is backing the effort. "We filled six bins last year, but because of the excitement, we're upping it to 10. We have a big pyramid of donation bins set up," Jeff said. "Kris put it on social media, and customers are coming in asking for Kris."
Kris started at Walmart months after his mother passed away. That, along with an interest in the customers he serves, has inspired him to give back.

"To me that's what makes the job great -- getting to know the customers. I have customers who come in and they know me and I know them, and we chat and keep up on each other's lives."

As he got to know those customers, he saw families struggle to buy the supplies required for their children. Inspired by his mother's legacy, that's when Kris stepped in.

"She was such a giving person," Kris said. "It made me realize the things you have today might not be there tomorrow. You want to give as much as you can."

Since Kris joined Walmart, he has been promoted twice. He plans to study broadcast meteorology and hopes to stay with Walmart at least until the end of his studies.

In the meantime, though, Kris is happy serving his customers and making a difference in the community. He's even managed to marry his mission to his planned occupation. If the Bryant store collects 10,000 school supply items by the end of the drive on Aug. 4, the school superintendent and local meteorologist have agreed to take pies to the face.

Wouldn't that be a sweet way to start the school year?