One five-year-old little girl went above and beyond in helping the other students pay off their lunch debts, by starting a hot cocoa and cookies stand to raise the much-needed money!
Katelynn Hardee, a kindergartner at Breeze Hill Elementary School in Vista, California, decided to put all her efforts into helping other students pay off their lunch debts by starting a snack stall.
Karina Hardee, Katelynn’s mother, shared that her daughter had recently overheard a classmate’s parent stressing about her struggles to cover the costs of the after-school program that her child was signed up to. Hearing this was distressing for little Katelynn and she shared this with her mother.
“She’s very inquisitive. She started asking me a lot of questions and I tried to answer as best as I could without it being too much for a five-year-old, and just tried to explain to her that sometimes people aren’t as fortunate and that we need to try and be kind and give when we can.”
Taking this message deeply to heart, Katelynn decided she would have to take action and she asked her mother if it would be possible for her to sell hot cocoa, cider and cookies shaped like snowmen, presents and Christmas trees to raise the money.
Katelynn said to her mother: “I can give money to the lunch people so they’ll have money.”
On December 8, Katelynn set up a small stall outside her home and she asked how they could donate the proceeds from the baked goods to help the families pay off their lunch debts.
Karina explained: “I just left a note saying that my daughter had a hot cocoa fundraiser over the weekend and would love to donate the money to any of the negative accounts.”
The $80 that Katelynn had raised on their first day of the stall has since grown and has managed to pay off the negative lunch balances of 123 students at her elementary school.
Karina hoped that through Katelynn’s actions other students would be able to have a snack and lunch, so their tummies would no longer “grumble”.
The school’s officials were overjoyed at what a kindhearted student Katelynn was, with Breeze Hill Principle Lori Higley stating: “Everybody is just so proud and happy and other students are already talking about ways they can also make a difference. It goes to show that even one small, kind act from a five-year-old can mean the difference for someone in their life.”
Rachel Ellis, Katelynn’s teacher added: “It’s not typical of a five-year-old, but for Katelynn, I could see that. She’s very mature for her age.”
Director of Child Nutrition Services for the Vista Unified School District, Jamie Phillips, has stated that over a thousand students in the district have a negative lunch balance ranging from less than a dollar to $10 or more. Based on the family income, nearly 65 per cent of students in Vista qualify for free and reduced school lunches.
Unfortunately, many families that should be in this program are not because they do not submit the application in time. Whilst other families are on extremely tight budgets despite having an income that doesn’t qualify for the program.
Phillips stated: “The cost of living here is so much higher than other communities. You could not qualify for free and reduced meals, and could still not be a livable income.”
After helping her fellow students, Katelynn has decided that she needs to move onto something a little more challenging!
The little girl’s next goal is to raise enough money that would pay off thousands of negative lunch accounts in other schools in the Vista Unified School District.
Katelynn’s single Sunday stand has now become #KikisKindnessProject, which involves staff and student from Breeze Hill volunteering to host stalls selling delicious hot cocoa and baked goodies. All in the goal of supporting Katelynn’s very important mission.
The project has not ended here when all the lunch debts are eventually paid off, the hardworking student plans to raise money in order to support better school programs that may have been cut due to budget constraints.
Karina has spoken about her daughter’s plans: “It’s all about kindness. Especially this holiday season, and with everything that’s going on in the world, we just need a little bit more kindness out there.”
Anyone who would like to support #KikisKindnessProject can donate on the Fundly page here.
Do you have a story for us? If so, email us at [email protected] All contact will be treated in confidence.