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North Little Rock Community Farm Receives $5,000 Check for Winning What a Difference a Day Makes Contest

Student-run nonprofit won online voting contest, beating 18 worthy rivals from across the country.

SEPT. 23, 2014 - Lee Tackett, the no-nonsense principal, smiled as the noise in the North Little Rock High School freshman campus gym grew from manageable din to cascading roar.

Freshman and middle-school students were gathered for a pep rally, but not just any pep rally. Clapping inflatable thunder sticks, shaking pom poms and leading cheers, the freshmen were there to have a good time.

And to accept a sizeable check from Regions Bank.

North Little Rock Community Farm, based at the school, won Regions’ What a Difference a Day Makes online voting competition, outpolling nonprofits from much larger cities to earn a $5,000 prize and 100 volunteer hours from the bank and its associates.

“This contest was inspiring,” Tackett said as she watched her students celebrate. “We had everyone from one end of North Little Rock to the other voting every day. Every student, every family voted. And if they forgot, they were reminded on Facebook or Twitter. Every time we fell behind, someone sent out a text reminding you to vote again.”

Located across the river from Arkansas’ capital city, North Little Rock Community Farm has brought students and local citizens together to provide a more plentiful food supply, focusing extensively on feeding the homeless – including those who are students at the school.

The student-run farm was one of 19 nonprofits nominated throughout the 16 states Regions serves and finished first in month-long voting.

“This was really about the kids and their farm,” said Regions Arkansas Area President Lynn Wright. “They went on television multiple times to encourage people to vote, and they generated great media support. Any time competition got close, they’d rally the troops.

“This was a great day for them, and it was a great day for Regions. It speaks volumes about Regions’ commitment, because it gives our associates a chance to give back and be a part of the community.”

With the marching band playing and the school body cheering, Regions presented the check to student leaders. But the day did not end with the pep rally.

Regions’ associates begin contributing their 100 volunteer hours working on the farm in the afternoon, delivering the second phase of the grand prize in the What a Difference a Day Makes contest.

In addition to crops, the North Little Rock Community Farm includes livestock: chickens, ducks, rabbits and honey bees, requiring a commitment from students that goes beyond the last ring of the school bell.

“They give up weekends and afternoons,” Tackett said. “They know if someone’s out of town, the animals need to be fed and watered. It’s really incredible to see how they’ve invested themselves in this.”

Josh Fendley, a Regions’ banker who was instrumental in getting the NLRCF started, congratulated the students for their hard work and their relentless online efforts to win the contest.

“You voted so hard and so well. Thank you for all your votes,” Fendley said. “This $5,000 Regions is giving will make a tremendous difference here.”

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