Eight-year-old boy pays off classmates’ 4K lunch debt

Washington student sells hundreds of bracelets, raising thousands of dollars to settle school meal bill.


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Keoni Ching

For some parents of elementary school children it’s often a win just to get their kids to eat the lunch that is provided on the premises.

But there’s always that precocious kid who is able to go the extra mile.

In Vancouver, Washington, that entrepreneurial and philanthropic prodigy is 8-year-old Keoni Ching who came up with a business idea that raised over $4,000 to pay off a school lunch debt, according to a report by CNN.

Keoni designed and manufactured custom bracelets, and then sold enough of them at $5 per piece to raise the whopping sum.

The boy’s laudable contribution came as his school, Franklin Elementary, hosted a now regular event called “Kindness Week.”

Keoni wanted to do something special for this year’s “Kindness Week” but was at a loss as to what to do. His parents read him a story about how NFL star Richard Sherman had paid off the lunch debt at two schools and Keoni decided to try and do something similar.

The “Kindness Week” event at his school was started by school counselor Lisa Dimurro.

“I really wanted our kids to spread a message of kindness, I think it’s really important,” Dimurro told local outlet 10tv.

Frankin Principal Woody Howard added:  “It’s been a great experience. He’s one of those kids that’s really introspective and is really quiet and then gets really verbal.”

The $4,015 that Keoni raised will pay off the $503 debt at Franklin Elementary and six other schools will get a $500 check each. The rest of the money will remain at Franklin Elementary for future debts incurred.

School lunch debt started to become an issue in both Oregon and Washington when both states passed bills to stop a practice referred to as “lunch shaming.” Schools can no longer give students a separate meal not provided to those paying for a school lunch. Staff can’t identify or tell a student there aren’t enough funds in their accounts.

Schools in both states are now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt because of the practice.

Location:10 miles north of Portland, Oregon
Median Household Income:$55,593
Quirky Fact:Vancouver shares its name with the much larger city of Vancouver in southern British Columbia, Canada, approximately 300 miles to the north. Both cities were named after sea captain George Vancouver, but the American city is older

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