Lawrence middle school funds Black History Month trip to the movies through GoFundMe

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Original Post

Schools around the metro are celebrating Black History Month in a variety of ways, but one school in Lawrence is doing something a little different, and letting kids learn from the big screen.

At South Middle School kids are learning all about Black History Month through a variety of activities, but on Feb. 28, the entire school is headed to the movies to see “Black Panther.”

“This movie, where it is an all-black cast, and its a positive thing, it helps them with that self esteem, really, about themselves, and that empowerment for them to be great,” said principal Keith Jones.

It’s all thanks to a GoFundMe page set up by paraeducator Kim Fuller.

“Oh, that’s exciting, I mean, its exciting that the community has kinda gotten behind this, and it kinda reinforces what we’ve been talking about here as a staff that our community supports the things that we want to expose our kids to. So, it kinda just validates where we feel like we’re doing the right thing here,” Fuller said.

The kids are excited as well.

“It really shows that we represent, that we love to represent Black History Month, and we really think that its important for kids to learn, and know about,” said 6th grader Destiny Savannah.

“It just makes me feel good that a black role is in a really big movie,” said 7th grader Kyle Watson.

The goal for the GoFundMe was $2,000 which they reached Monday evening.

Principal Jones says only seven percent of the students at South Middle are African-American, so this really opens up a conversation for students of all races.

“This movie, its more than just a movie, and I think that’s what some people don’t understand, because it opens the door and the conversation about more than just superheroes, but going to college, being on TV, all those different things that sometimes black kids struggle with,” Jones said.

Jones says they are working at South Middle to recognize different cultures. This year is the first year they are taking time out to focus on Latino and Native American heritages.

Victim’s family offers reward in search for shooter outside Temptations night club

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

On Jan. 28, a young man was shot and killed outside a Crossroads gentleman’s club. Now, his family is asking for any help to bring his killer to justice.

FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt sat down with a family still shocked at his death.

The shooting happened around 3:15 a.m. Sunday in a parking lot behind Temptation’s Gentleman’s Club in the 1500 block of Grand. Jesse Harpool, 22, was found shot and later died at a local hospital.

Jesse Harpool’s family said they are broken after he was killed just behind Temptations Gentleman’s Club. They said he was simply waiting for a friend.

“I would give my own life to have him back,” said Harpool’s mother, Victoria Smith.

The past two weeks are the hardest the young man’s family has been through.

“He was at the club, but he would not spend a dime. He was really just waiting for a friend,” said his uncle Michael Smith.

Harpool was thinking about joining the military and learning the flooring trade from his uncle.

“I was so proud. So proud of everything he’s accomplished. Just watching him grow into the man that he’s become. I was just so proud of him,” his mother said.

Weeks later, his family is still left wondering why he had to die.

“You know, it was Saturday night. He just was a 22-year-old kid out trying to have fun just like every 22-year-old kid,” Michael Smith said.

Jesse’s family says he was waiting behind the club for a friend to get off work. That’s when a witness told them a 4-door white Honda sedan pulled up with four or five men inside.

Smith says Harpool got into an argument with a man in the car and Harpool punched off his side-view window, a door opened, and a shot went off.

“To know that someone took his life over something so stupid. It doesn’t make any sense to us,” Michael smith said.

“I was devastated. I mean, shattering. It was shattering. I’m going to cry,” his mother said.

“There’s never going to be any bringing him back, and so, the rest of our lives we’re going to be in pain every day about that,” Michael Smith said.

His uncle says police are reviewing surveillance video from the alley to hopefully learn more about who did this.

FOX4 requested the video from the Kansas City Missouri Police Department, but were not given access to the video.

Both Harpool’s mother and uncle are begging anyone with information to come forward and help bring his killer to justice.

“I’m convinced there’s many people out there that could point us in the right direction. I’m convinced of it, and we just need someone to please, please have a heart, and step forward, and give us that direction to go in,” Michael Smith said.

His family is offering $2,000 for information that leads to the conviction of Harpool’s killer.

If you would like to donate to the reward fund you can do so here.

If you know anything about what happened that night, they ask you to please call the police or the Crimestoppers tip line at (816) 474-8477.

Not A Victim gun training aims to make women comfortable pulling the trigger

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Original Post

If you were put into a situation where you had to use a gun, would you know what to do?

A new class in the metro aims to take the intimidation out of pulling the trigger.

Hundreds of women ages 18 to 80 have already taken the class.

“The ladies come in a lot of times scared, nervous. I think almost all of them have been nervous coming into the class not quite sure what to expect, and by the time they leave they’re asking when the next class is, what they do next, how to buy a gun, and are excited to get more involved,” said Susan Hutchcraft.

Hutchcraft is the owner and instructor of Not a Victim Training. She’s also a police officer.

“Being able to give people that confidence. Being able to, whether they choose to ever have a gun or not, they stand a little taller, they carry themselves a little more confident. They have a little more trust in themselves and their gut instincts, and how they’re going to handle things,” Hutchcraft said.

She said most of her students are first time and beginning shooters.

“My husband and my grown sons are saying, ‘go, mom, go!’ You know it’s just, in terms of, it’s a new opportunity, and if it fits for you, you know take it to the next level,” said first-timer Caroline Huffman.

“I don’t even own one. I don’t even know if I’ll go buy one, but I just wanted to be more comfortable,” said beginner Krissy Wade.

Both ladies got what they came for in the class, and got to shoot a handgun in a safe environment with Hutchcraft by their side.

“It was good. Still a little nerve wracking, but yeah it was fun,” Wade said.

“After I shot that first round I could feel myself becoming more comfortable, more competent, and it was as I shared before we even came, you know, part of what this does is empower, and I definitely felt empowered,” Huffman said.

Hutchcraft said the class is a great way to make friends and learn something new.

“They’re a team, and they’re working through this together, and I’ve noticed as we go through the classes that even though they’re free to leave after their shooting time, a lot of times, they`ll stick around to cheer everybody else on,” Hutchcraft said.

She says it’s all about education, and if you are scared of guns, its a safe and easy way to find out if its something you are interested in.

Hutchcraft teaches a number of classes across the metro, and also offers personal shooting lessons. You can check out her schedule here.

Small dog has big job as director of love and hospitality at Lee’s Summit school

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — Original Post

Everyone has a job to do, but at St. Michael the Archangel High School, a four-legged friend has a big responsibility.

When you see this “Aussischon” — that’s half Australian Shepherd and half Bischon Frise — walking down the halls, don’t be fooled. Mike the Puppy is an administrator at the Lee’s Summit school.

“He’s the director of love and hospitality, and he sure lives up to it,” Exceptional Education Teacher Nancy McCoy said.

Mike may be new to school — and even to this world — but everyone agrees he’s an expert at his job.

“If you’re walking through the hallway and you see a puppy, I mean, there`s nothing you can do but smile or laugh, and its kind of boosted the whole moral of the school,” high school senior Nate Schwaller said.

Mike’s focus is on the school’s SMILE Program (St. Michael Inclusive Learning Environment) for teens with exceptional needs.

“I get a lot of stress some days,” SMILE Program student and freshman Cole Setter said. “It’s like it goes to the ceiling sometimes, and when I go see Mike, piece by piece by piece, it melts away. And all of the sudden I don’t have stress no more, and I feel happy.”

“It may seem like he’s just a dog, and that people just like to pet him, but he helps people get through some of their most stressful times of their teenage years,” said Schwaller, who’s also a SMILE Program mentor. “If they have any hardships going on at home, Mike is an escape route for them.”

Even though Mike’s perspective of life is a little different, everyone at St. Michael’s says he puts things into focus.

“Mike doesn’t care if you’re popular or not popular. He loves everybody,” Schwaller said.

“He’s really brought this school together as a family, and that’s what this school is about,” McCoy said.

So Mike can rest easy at the end of the day, knowing he got the job done.

Fellow administrators say they are excited to see Mike grow up for generations of kids, and alumni are always welcome to come back and visit their friend.

These pet-friendly Kansas City metro stores let you shop with your furry friend in tow

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

A lot of people go shopping with their best friend, but what if your best friend is your dog?

FOX4’s Sherae Honeycutt took her dog Bisou out and found where you can shop in Kansas City with your furry pal.

The first stop was Westlake Ace Hardware in Westport. Dogs are so welcome there they even get treats over the counter.

“It’s really fun to have dogs shopping in your store.To be able to bring the whole family into the store is a great thing, and our dogs even know that we store treats up at the register,” General Manager Amber Murfin said.

“We love it. We love feeling welcome. We love that everyone here is kind and welcoming to the canines and to me, and we’re here all the time,” regular customer Lisa Ash-Drackert said.

The company love dogs so much, a year ago they dedicated a whole section of their store to pets.

At Academy Sports in Overland Park there’s something for everyone. Maybe a kayak for you and a tennis ball for your puppy pal.

If you go to HMK on the Plaza, or any Hallmark store for that matter, your dog can pick out a birthday card for the Dalmatian down the street.

After that, Sherae and Bisou did some light reading at Half Price Books in Westport where dogs are always welcome.

“It’s really just about making people feel at home and welcome. Like, that’s what Half Price Books is all about. We just want people to basically feel comfortable to come in and just relax,” manager Johanna Kupecki said.

So, stroll the aisles at your leisure, pick out your favorite book, and let your dog curl up on your lap.

If you head to Tiffany & Co. on the Plaza, there’s no reason to stand out in the cold when you can walk right in, and even your pup is treated like a princess.

So, don’t forget to take your dog next time you go shopping! Your furry friend will thank you.

However, always remember to keep them on a leash.

Here are some other dog friendly stores around the metro:

  • Michaels
  • Ross
  • Sephora
  • Ann Taylor & Ann Taylor Loft
  • Bath & Body Works
  • Home Depot
  • Pottery Barn
  • Macy’s
  • Bass Pro Shops
  • Barnes & Noble
  • LUSH Cosmetics
  • Restoration Hardware
  • Gap
  • Urban Outfitters
  • Anthropologie
  • Free People
  • Foot Locker
  • Bebe
  • Nordstrom
  • Old Navy
  • Tractor Supply Co.
  • The Apple Store

At least 10 percent of students at 10 Johnson County schools recently out sick from the flu

JOHNSON COUNTY, Kan. — Original Post

A lot of students in Johnson County are getting some days off, but it’s not what you think.

The flu is reaching new levels and keeping them home.

The Johnson County Health Department reports 10 schools had at least 10 percent of students absent from classes last week.

That includes four schools in the Olathe School District. The school district reports those numbers are dropping.

This year’s strain is proving to be worse than previous years.

Nancy Tausz with the Johnson County Health Department said they aren’t seeing a drop in cases, and the number of reports could go up.

In some cases, those finding themselves with the flu even got their flu shot.

“It’s maybe half and half, a little less than half that have not had a shot, but again, it’s not too late to get a flu shot. It should decrease severity if you do get the flu,” Tausz said.

Tausz said if you do have a child who is sick, make sure they are washing their hands and don’t sent them back to school until they have been fever-free for 24 hours.

Road crews work into the night to clear roads after snowfall

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Original Post

If you got to stay inside on Super Bowl Sunday you were one of the lucky ones.

Crews in Overland Park are out right now – and have been all day – making sure the roads are clear of that slushy snow. Jeff Hunt, The Snow Boss for Overland Park Public Works says they did not anticipate this much snow, but when they saw their predictions rise, they put down their plows and hit the streets.

Hunt says they knew it was going to snow, but not like this.

“It was very unexpected. We went into it just thinking we’d probably have to treat the whole city with salt, and now we are actually plowing our residentials,” Hunt said.

They were prepared for the plan change.

“Forecasting is a prediction, so we’re pretty well used to kind of adjust of the fly,” Hunt said.

However, on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s not the kind of plans you want to change.

“We always got plans to watch the Super Bowl, but our guys are used to it. You know, we’ve been in here on Christmas before. We were here for the college football championship. So, they’re pretty well used to it unfortunately not being at some events,” Hunt said.

Well passed the end of the big game crews will still be treating the streets.

“When we drop plows it slows everything down. It will take us roughly twenty-four hours from the time it stops snowing to complete the city,” Hunt said.

Their second shift will be working until two in the morning.

“We’ll be reassessing our priority streets to make sure that they’re safe for the morning rush, and everything like that,” Hunt said.

Even with all their hard work they want you to be prepared.

“They need to take it slow, because with the temperatures we’re going to see – anything that we get that starts slushing up right now can refreeze, but we have crews, and we will be monitoring that very closely. So, I mean, by morning rush we should be in pretty good shape,” Hunt said.

Hunt wants to make sure people know to park on one side of the street in anticipation of another snowfall on Tuesday.

He says it really slows them down, and it’s incredibly helpful to their crews that are going from street to street.

Doctors with KU Health System complete 10-person kidney transplant for the first time in KC

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

It’s a new chance at life for five people right here in the metro.

On Tuesday, the University of Kansas Health System performed a quintuple kidney transplant — five donors and five recipients — for the first time.

“To help five patients come off of the transplant list and get kidneys is quite a feat,” said transplant surgeon Timothy Schmidt who, along with fellow transplant surgeon Sean Kumer, completed the procedure over two days.

It’s a feat achieved for the first time in Kansas City.

With all 10 patients recovering, the University of Kansas Health System provided FOX4 with video footage and interviews for an inside look at one of the most difficult procedures doctors have done.

“This is what you go into this for is to help people,”said Kumer, the physician vice president of operative services. “And when you have good outcomes, all your hard work doesn’t seem like hard work anymore.”

“Every time someone mentions my transplant, I just smile because I’m so excited,” said Stephanie Williams who was one of five that received a kidney.

Williams was a month away from dialysis when a random donor made this procedure possible.

The way it works is some people have a family member or spouse who wants to donate but isn’t a match. However, they might be a match to another person in need of a kidney. Doctors are then able to match different donors and recipients within a group.

“Through the extreme generosity of John, we were able to start this internal chain,” and five people’s lives would be affected for the better, and they would be able to get kidney transplants,” physician Amna Ilahe said.

“I think we’re all kind of interconnected in some point of way, and if I can help somebody who’s suffering, then why not?” said Jonathan Sink who stepped up after a Facebook post called him to help.

Thanks to Sink’s generosity, Williams and four others can look forward to a healthy future.

“I’m just — I’m so, so grateful and so blessed that there’s this amazing person to do this,” Williams said.

Doctors at the University of Kansas Health System said they’re always looking for organ donors — especially those with type O blood. If you want to learn more about how to become a living organ donor, visit the University of Kansas Health System’s website.

Metro residents share hopes for Trump’s first State of the Union address

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Original Post

All eyes are on Capitol Hill Tuesday night as President Donald Trump will take center stage for his first State of the Union Address.

But how are people in the metro feeling about his upcoming speech?

Some are hoping it goes smoothly, like KCMO resident George Williams.

“I’m hoping that Trump will kind of show more leniency towards the middle, working toward togetherness instead of this really divisive speech that he`s been having a go on recently,” Williams said.

But others, like KCK resident Susan Kraus, won’t be tuning in.

“It’s normally something that I always do regardless of the party of the president, but I really don’t know if I can stomach it,” she said.

Trump’s expected big topics will be twofold. First up is the economy.

“The economy I think has been the best in my entire lifetime,” Williams said. “It’s been growing ever since he’s come into office.”

“You can have what looks like sort of temporary fixes to the economy, but when you do it at the expense of regulation, it’s sort of this cycle where our children and our grandchildren will be paying the cost,” Kraus said.

Immigration will also be something many are listening for.

“There should be some sort of immigration policy, but some of the ways he’s going at it to try to do his policy is not really working out,” Williams said.

“I deplore the way we are dealing with immigrants from Syria and from other countries,” Kraus said. “And the vetting — he says we have to have ‘uber vetting’ or something ‘super vet’ and they have been vetted for years.”

Both Williams and Kraus are interested to see Congressman Joe Kennedy III’s Democratic response.

“I think having a name like Kennedy, it can be a gift, but I think it`s as much as a burden,” Kraus said.

“That’s interesting. It’s kind of appealing to a larger crowd. A lot of people know the Kennedy name. It`s a big political power. A lot of people like the Kennedys so I think it`s a good call,” Williams said.

Oak Grove food pantry’s truck destroyed in fire, leaving organizers in financial struggle and families in limbo

OAK GROVE, Mo. — Original Post

A metro food pantry’s box truck went up in flames Thursday, leaving 75 families in limbo.

Every Thursday, Faith in Christ Fellowship feeds around 250 people. Last Thursday, the church lost the one way it has to collect and distribute food.

“I see it as a whole lot of people that aren’t going to get their food,” Pastor John Jones said.

But the Oak Grove church is determined to find a solution.

“We have to find other means,” Jones said. “We can’t just shut down. We can’t ignore the need.”

Jones said the box truck carried about 4,000 pounds worth of food each week — something families in need get free of charge.

“I have people tell me every week, ‘I don’t know what we would do if it weren’t for you guys.’ I can’t ignore that kind of call. We have to find a way to serve these people,” Jones said.

As every day inches closer to the coming Thursday, Jones doesn’t know what they’ll do or what they’ll tell the families if eventually they can’t help.

“We can’t tell them that we’re going to stop,” Jones said. “We have to find a way, and right now we’re renting vehicles, but that’s costing us about $100 a week,” Jones said.

That amount normally buys the food.

Jones said for every dollar they put in, they get $30 worth of food discounted because the food bank is a charity.

Each week that’s $3,000 dollars in food lost.

“Those people need the help, and we have the volunteers that are willing to put the back labor behind it, but we need the dollars to buy the truck,” Jones said.

A replacement will cost $8,000, and Jones hopes someone out there can help.

“Jesus said, ‘The poor you’ll have with you always,’ and there are people who are always going to be financially challenged, and we need to step up to the plate to do our part to help them,” Jones said.

If you would like to help, you can contact the church through their website or mail donations to 101 S.W. 21st St., Oak Grove, Mo., 64075.