Proving that positive role models are needed in order to properly inspire future generations, an eight-year-old boy from Washington managed to pay off the lunch debt of his school district amounting to $4,015.
He did this because he was inspired by the generosity of Richard Sherman, former Seattle Seahawk cornerback.
In order to pull off this incredible act, Keoni Ching sold key chains for $5 in celebration of “Kindness Week” at Franklin Elementary in Vancouver where he’s a student.
“We do it every year, once a week and it’s where everybody does kind things to each other,” Ching explained to KGW.
Ching got inspired after he heard about how Richard Sherman paid off the lunch debts for schools in California and in Tacoma, Washington.
“Because if people don’t have a packed lunch and they don’t have enough lunch money, they will starve,” Ching added.
He later added: “I know a lot of people that eat hot lunch a lot and they run out of money as I did once.”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee had signed a bill in 2018 that prevented a child from being denied school lunches no matter how much debt they may have accrued.
Together with his mother, April, Ching started selling the key chains on December 10.
Lisa Dimurro, the school counselor and the one who created Kindness Week, said, “When people go above and beyond to do something kind to help others, I think that’s the perfect example of kindness. It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Keoni, who is a Miami Dolphins fan, said that he just loves key chains.
“They look good on my backpack,” he added.
But Ching’s efforts have reached far beyond Washington school district with his mother adding that they were able to ship key chains “all over the country.”
“We have sent key chains to Alaska, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Arizona, all over the country,” April Ching said.
“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.”
Last week, Keoni handed the check over to his school. Six other schools got $500 each from the leftover funds once the $1,000 amount owed to Franklin was paid.
When talking about education, school lunch debt is one of the topics high on the list with 75 percent of districts reporting unpaid student meal debt at the close of the 2017/2018 school year, said the School Nutrition Association (SNA).
Out of those districts that have unpaid meal debt, 43 percent said that the number of students who lacked adequate funds went up last school year.