Every Little Bit Helps

Discover how a community came together to do its part for a nonprofit doing so much for its community.
Jun 18, 2024 10:00 AM ET

By Kim Borges

“The Lord is going to put me where I need to be when I need to be there.”

Those words anchored Miranda Walker Jones when a flood swept nearly everything away.

Walker Jones had joined The Little Bit Foundation as its CEO just eight months before historic rains fell on St. Louis in July of 2022, extensively damaging the nonprofit’s office and a warehouse filled with clothing and education supplies for children they serve.

The organization dedicated to supporting families in need found itself in need of support.

Then, the phone rang.

“I got a call from Eric Madkins, who said, ‘We heard about what happened; Regions wants to help,’” said Walker Jones. “It was the first call I received.”

Madkins confirmed Regions Bank in St. Louis would provide a $5,000 donation, followed by several more companies committing contributions, too. It was an easy call for Madkins given the organization’s impact and reach.

The work The Little Bit Foundation does to help break the cycle of poverty for families across St. Louis is transformational. 
Eric Madkins, Community Development manager for Regions Bank in Missouri

“The work The Little Bit Foundation does to help break the cycle of poverty for families across St. Louis is transformational,” explained Madkins, Community Development manager for Regions Bank in Missouri. “Their outreach across 50 schools provides thousands of students with access to essential supplies while empowering them through educational support and helping them build self-confidence. Regions is proud to lend our support to elevate their mission.”

Meaning, when the bank’s Big Bike recently rolled into St. Louis for its latest weeklong celebration of activities, it stopped at Laura’s Run 4 Kids, a 5K run and one-mile family walk benefitting The Little Bit Foundation. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

“We had perfect running weather, it could not have been a more beautiful day,” said Walker Jones. “And the kids and I loved that Big Green Bike.”

The kids – 200 served by The Little Bit Foundation – joined 400 adults from the community to run in support of the cause.

“We had students from 10 different schools we serve, all united in the excitement of being in the park and their love for running,” said Walker Jones. “These kids were pushing us. The adults seemed to really enjoy running with them (see below for more about Regions’ runners). That day showed the best of our children.”

Walker Jones can always find a silver lining – not just on good days like race day, but even amid natural disasters.

These kids were pushing us. The adults seemed to really enjoy running with them. That day showed the best of our children.

“People said they never saw me sweat,” she recalled of the weeks following the flood. “I had people ask, ‘How much can you endure in a given moment?’ For me, it’s higher than many. I credit that to growing up in East St. Louis, a tight-knit yet extremely under-resourced community. It helped me build my resiliency muscle.”

Walker Jones knows the challenges youth served by The Little Bit Foundation face; but more importantly, she knows their ability to overcome them.

“I resonate with children growing up in neighborhoods like I did,” Walker Jones said. “Our kids aren’t always seen as the potential scholars and future leaders they are. But I know our future is secure when I talk with them. There are so many things I get to witness every day that convince me of it.”

And Walker Jones and team are doing everything in their power to ensure those good things continue.

Last year, The Little Bit Foundation created a Wellness and Family Support division. Earlier this year, they brought on a case management team to offer therapy services and they’ll expand to six more schools by the end of 2024.

Oh, and they’re moving into their new permanent headquarters this summer, too.

“I’ve been here two-and-a-half years and there’s never been a dull moment,” Walker Jones said. “Every day, I’m living the dream.”

And in the most difficult moments, she’s learned valuable lessons.

“I’m a bit of a hoarder and a nester,” Walker Jones said. “When everything is gone in an instant, it makes you think about things as things. The fact that my staff was safe, they were OK … the people are the things that drive us. As long as the people stay intact, and we keep our mentality in a positive space, we can make it through anything.”

People including the team at Regions Bank.

“You were the first ones to help us get back on our feet, unprompted,” Walker Jones said. “You knew the work. You can’t ask for any better partnership.”

Running for – and with – the Kids:

Several Regions associates laced up their sneakers to support The Little Bit Foundation, a bank customer. “The Clayton and Jennings teams are part of what I call my personal financial team,” said Walker Jones. “They’re like family.”

We connected with Scott Hartwig, Commercial Banking leader and Greater St. Louis Market Executive, and Amanda Bridwell, Consumer relationship banker-team lead at the Creve Coeur West branch, to ask about their 5K experience.

How many races have you completed?

Bridwell: I’ve been a regular runner and walker for 12 years. I’ve run 25 to 30 5Ks and a handful of half marathons.

Hartwig: I completed seven half marathons between 10 to 15 years ago and have done 15-plus 5Ks.

Tell us about your race day experience.

Bridwell: I participated in the 5K with my husband, Matt, and my dog, Roxie. The highlight for me was the kids. Many walked up and asked if they could pet Roxie. They would then bring a friend who was maybe afraid of a dog and show them how friendly she is.

Hartwig: Seeing all the fun the kids were having just being kids was also fun for us as adults. They took off and were all over the place! You don’t often see that at a 5K. It was funny to watch since kids don’t pace themselves with running.

Why was it important for Regions to support this event?

Bridwell: It’s important because we talk about financial education and helping our customers. It starts here by serving younger kids.

Hartwig: The work The Little Bit Foundation does to fight poverty through education aligns with our community pillars and goes hand in hand with what we’re teaching through financial education.