8-Year-Old Paid off Lunch Debt for Whole School by Selling Key Chains

Keoni said he decided to make key chains because, "I love key chains. They look good on my backpack."
April Ching

An eight-year-old boy went the extra mile to help out his classmates by selling key chains to raise money to erase their school lunch debt.

Keoni Ching from Vancouver, Washington, sold handmade key chains at $5 apiece to raise a total of $4,015 to take away the school lunch debt of children at his school and six others in the area, CNN reported.

The key chain fundraiser idea began when Keoni was thinking about what to do for “Kindness Week” at school. Keoni ultimately came up with the idea after being inspired by San Francisco 49ers player Richard Sherman.

Sherman, who used to play for the Seattle Seahawks, donated more than $27,000 to eliminate student lunch debt.

Keoni said he decided to make and sell key chains because “they look good” on his backpack, and he loves them.

Once the word of Keoni’s key chain fundraiser spread, people from across the country wanted to get their hands on one of those custom key chains.

“We have sent key chains to Alaska, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Arizona, all over the country,” 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.”

Keoni, with a little help from his grandparents and parents, made and sold over 300 key chains.

Keoni presented the $4,015 check to his school, Franklin Elementary, last week.

One thousand dollars of the money will go directly to the school to wipe out the $500 lunch debt and any future debt incurred. The rest of the money will go to six neighboring schools, which will each receive $500 to go towards paying down their lunch debts.

“Lunches here are about $2. But if you have two or three kids and for whatever reason, you’ve missed (paying for) a week of lunch or breakfasts, that adds up pretty quickly,” Franklin Elementary’s Principal Woody Howard said. “This type of a gift takes a little bit of pressure off of your family.”

School lunch debt has become an increasing problem in the country. According to a report from the School Nutrition Association, 75 percent of U.S. school districts had unpaid school lunch accounts.

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