Local girl selling items to benefit food pantry



At age 9, Laynie Barnes has become an entrepreneur.

The Seymour-Jackson Elementary School fourth-grader decided to start making paracord bracelets, keychains and zipper pulls but said she didn’t think anyone would buy them.

When she chose to use the proceeds to benefit the Kids Pantry in Crothersville, though, business took off.

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In the past month, she has made four $100 donations of food for a total of $400.

"It makes me feel good," she said of helping a good cause. "I like picking out food I think kids will like. I also liked working in the senior pantry."

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in March, Kathy Sage, a volunteer at the First Baptist Church of Crothersville food pantry, started Kids Pantry to provide food for local children while schools were closed. She wound up expanding it to include food for senior citizens since the Crothersville Senior Citizens Center also closed due to the pandemic.

That took off, too.

"It blew up," Sage said of people visiting the pantry and making donations. "I’ve told people when we started this, I was thinking maybe a month or something, and we’re still going."

Laynie, who lives with her parents, Josh and Angie Barnes, and twin sisters in Uniontown, learned how to make the items on YouTube. She was familiar with paracord through her involvement in Cub Scouts.

"She saw them at a festival, and then she liked them, bought them and she’s like, ‘I think I might be able to make these,’" Angie said. "Josh had a friend that made them, and she started watching YouTube."

One of the most popular items is a dragonfly keychain. Laynie learned how to make that a couple of weeks ago and already has sold more than 60.

Laynie said it takes between 2 and 10 minutes to make one of the various items. She offers nearly 10 different designs and just about every color, and they cost between $2 and $5.

"I like the challenge of learning new designs. I’m trying to learn how to do a bumblebee and Yoda," Laynie said.

"She’s got a lot of people wanting bumblebees," Angie said. "It’s a specific knot she’s having trouble with, so she’s getting frustrated with it, but she loves the challenge."

Angie said she’s proud of Laynie for dedicating her time to help the pantry.

"Right before school started, she was making some and she spent two 10-, 12-hour days sitting in the living room. I was canning and I’m like, ‘Come put these dishes up for me and then you can go back to it,’" Angie said. "She has definitely been working hard at it."

She initially thought Laynie would make enough items to make one donation to the pantry, but so far, that has turned into four.

"We weren’t expecting it would take off like it did," Angie said. "She has had people that have started giving her some food. Sometimes, people want to donate, but they can’t get down here, so I’m like, ‘If you have something to donate, we can pick it up.’"

Laynie said she enjoys making trips to Walmart to pick out food she knows kids like and donating it to the pantry. The family also reaches out to Sage to ask what food is needed.

"The first time, she didn’t really know, and then by now, it’s her idea of this and that," Josh said.

Laynie also liked volunteering on a pantry day for senior citizens.

"She has been talking about it constantly. … She was taking the orders and filling them. She really enjoyed it," Angie said.

"They had a little lady that came over and talked to them, and she said she really needed (the food). (Laynie) got to see that firsthand, so that was a good thing," Angie said. "It shows that even if you don’t have money to give, there’s still your time and other things that you can do to help out."

With the success of the pantry, Sage said she’s not surprised with how Laynie’s sales have gone.

"We had a woman when (the pantry) first started make face masks and gave us the money. She was thinking she would raise $100 and it was almost $425," Sage said.

Josh said Laynie has bought into helping the pantry, and that doesn’t surprise Angie since their daughter has helped with other projects over the years, including at church and the Sertoma Christmas Miracle.

"As she got old enough, we would take her and let her pick out the toys, help pick out clothes," Angie said. "We’ve always tried to help out where we can."

Through the pandemic, Laynie understands some people are struggling financially and need help with food.

"When she gets a big order, she’s like, ‘I’ll get to be able to buy a lot of stuff for the pantry this week.’ She definitely gets excited," Angie said. "We’ve tried to show her that helping others, we’ve had help, and everybody struggles at some point."

With Josh and Angie both being graduates of Crothersville High School, they were drawn to support the pantry.

"Kathy has been a big lead, and Laynie caught onto this," Josh said.

"We started seeing what she was doing down here and just tried to help out with it," Angie said. "She has really done a lot to reach out to the community where the needs are."

Angie said they also have contributed to food drives at Laynie’s school, so they are able to help people in both communities.

Laynie already has her eye on another project later this year: Doing a coat drive and making paracord Christmas ornaments.

Her initiative has inspired her parents, Sage and others.

"So many people have said with all of the negativity going on surrounding us now, a lot of them are like, ‘She’s like a breath of fresh air,’" Angie said.

Josh has confidence in his daughter’s business sense.

"I said, ‘If we could keep this going, maybe Mom and Dad can quit,’" he joked about both of them not having to work because of Laynie’s success.

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To order paracord bracelets, keychains and zipper pulls from Laynie Barnes, message her mother, Angie Barnes, through Facebook. Proceeds go toward the Kids Pantry in Crothersville.


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