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Freshman starts Angel Tree for tornado victims

SALYERSVILLE – On Saturday, December 11, Jerica Conley was catching up on what happened the night before when she received an email from one of her gifted and talented students who just wanted to help.

Conley, the gifted and talented coordinator for Magoffin County Schools, told the Independent she received an email from Kennedy Bailey, a freshman at Magoffin County High School, apologizing for emailing over the weekend, but hoping to find an outlet to help the tornado victims.

“She apologized for emailing me on a Saturday, but said she was so upset by the tornado and wanted to help,” Conley said. “She remembered how it felt when one hit here and other people from throughout the state helped and she wanted to take the call to do the same.”

Bailey is in the gifted and talented program for leadership and Conley said people often ask her what that means, but this is the perfect example.

“This is the perfect example of what a gifted and talented for leadership student would do,” Conley said, explaining how proud she is of Bailey’s initiative.

Conley explained to the student she could find ways to help the “Stuff the Bus” drive already going on, or she can find a need and start her own, which is exactly what she did.

Bailey researched the areas hit and found similarities to Salyersville, with a small population and so many affected by the storm, even if they weren’t getting as much attention as other areas in the news, inevitably deciding to start an Angel Tree for Dawson Springs drive, collecting gifts for the children in the community to make sure everyone gets a Christmas, despite the devastation around them.

Bailey and her mom, Kisha, have been contacting the Dawson Springs school officials to set up a point of contact and determine what they need. Her brother, a middle schooler, has challenged his basketball teammates to all bring a stuffed stocking for the drive.

“She’s talked to all the local businesses and Paul Montgomery has already volunteered to deliver the gifts next week,” Conley said. “She wants the Christmas presents to go where they need to go, and she has organized this on her own. She is a true leader.”

Conley said people can donate money or toys, but preferably toys and/or gifts already wrapped with the age labeled on the package, with donations being accepted at the Herald Whitaker Middle School.

“She has a servant’s heart,” Conley said about Bailey. “So many of us will talk all day about what we would like to do or think needs done, but it takes a true leader to take that initiative and make it happen.”

Conley said by Tuesday they had already received $200 in donations, with another $1,000 pledged by the Johnson County Educators.

Anyone wanting to coordinate a donation can email,, by calling or texting 606-496-6315 or calling the Herald Whitaker Middle School at 606-349-5190 and asking to talk to Jerica Conley. Donations are being taken until December 17, with the presents to be delivered this Saturday.

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