Howell Third Grader Raises More Than $20,000 to Pay Off School Lunch Accounts

 "Like if you want to be a hero, a small thing can turn out to be a big thing," said Cayden.  

When most of us see a problem, we don't go the extra mile to try to find a solution. We have the story of how one third grader saw something that bothered him, and he found a way to fix it. Cayden Taipalus' campaign started about two weeks ago.

The Howell Public Schools third grader noticed that one of his classmates at Challenger Elementary had to put his hot lunch down because he didn't have enough money in his lunch account. He was given a cheese sandwich instead. This made Cayden sad, so he went home and asked his mom what he could do to help.

"I was in line getting lunch and a kid in front of me had to put down his tray because he didn't have enough money on his account, and that made me sad. So I went home that night and asked my mom what I could do to help," said Cayden.

"He'd come home and said, what can I do? Can I give him some of my lunch money? Or what can I do? So we started brainstorming," said Amber Peters, Cayden's mom.

They decided to collect money so that Cayden could pay off delinquent lunch accounts in hopes that every student could get a hot lunch.

"Cayden actually started collecting bottles and cans around the house and went to the neighbors house, and friends and family," said his Mom.

Cayden called his campaign "Pay it Forward: No Kid Goes Hungry." The story spread on social media and just a few dollars grew into so much more.

"The goal was 50. Now I have up to $20,000," said Cayden.

That's right, more than $20,000 raised, from 600 donors, some as far away as Taiwan-enough to pay for 50,000 lunches not only in Howell Schools but in districts across Livingston and Ingham Counties. Cayden doesn't know who he's helping--- just that he's helping.

"That's what makes this so great is Cayden doesn't know any of the students that have actually benefited from him paying them off. He has done it just from the goodness of his heart and didn't want any recognition, or any of the students to know," said David Cherry, Principal of Challenger Elementary.

A good heart that's providing hot lunch help to thousands of kids.

"Like if you want to be a hero, a small thing can turn out to be a big thing," said Cayden.

A lunch room lesson from the pint-sized hero himself.

Cayden is not only paying off delinquent accounts, but he is adding money to all accounts of students on reduced lunch. Now that he hit 20 thousand, he told us he's ready to set an even higher goal of 30 thousand.


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