School lunch debt is a growing problem in the US, with about 75 percent of school districts nationwide reporting having unpaid student meal debt, according to the School Nutrition Association (SNA).
In an act of kindness, 8-year-old Keoni Ching from Vancouver, Washington, has recently started a small enterprise to help out his schoolmates. With his handmade key chains that go for $5 each, Keoni managed to raise $4,015 — enough to erase the lunch debt of students from his school and six others.
It all started as a result of Keoni’s desire to do something special for “Kindness Week” at his school, Benjamin Franklin Elementary. With the support of his parents and grandparents, Keoni then started the key chain project.
Once word of Keoni’s heartwarming cause got out, people from all across the nation started inquiring about buying one of his custom key chains.
“We have sent key chains to Alaska, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Arizona, all over the country,” Keoni’s mother, April Ching, told CNN. “There was one lady who said she wanted $100 worth of key chains so that she could just hand them out to people. … There were several people who bought one key chain and gave (Keoni) a hundred bucks. It was absolutely amazing how much support the community showed for his whole project.”
Eventually, Keoni made and sold more than 300 key chains, the proceeds of which he delivered to his school. Of the $4,015 he raised, $1,000 will go to the school to pay the $500 lunch debt and for any future debt incurred. The rest will go to six other schools in the area, which will get $500 each to clear their own lunch debts.