Student Raises Lunch Money to Help Classmates in Need in Michigan

Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 10:02 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A Michigan student is raising lunch money for his fellow students who can't afford it.

Cayden Taipalus, an 8-year-old third grader at Challenger Elementary School in Howell, Mich., has raised more than $14,800 through an online fundraising campaign on the website FundRazr.com, MLive.com reported.

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"I just want to make kids have a better lunch," Taipalus told Today.com on Tuesday.


The initiative was reportedly started two weeks ago by Taipalus after he witnessed a classmate being denied a hot lunch because of an outstanding balance on his lunch account.

"He wanted to know how he could help," Amber Melke-Peters, Cayden's mother, told Today.com.

A week later, Taipalus gave his school $64 he had collected from family, friends, and neighbors which in turn paid for 150 lunches for students who couldn't afford it. The local story was subsequently picked up by a Michigan radio station that led to others beyond the district wanting to contribute to the initiative. To handle the influx of donations, Taipalus' mother launched an online campaign – Pay It Forward: No Kid Goes Hungry.

"Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this would happen," Melke-Peters told Today.com. "He’s just a little local boy trying to do some good."

The 8-year-old and his very proud mother have visited several schools throughout the Howell Public School District in the past week to assist students with overdue lunch accounts. 

According to the FundRazr site, Cayden raised sufficient funds to pay for 4,000 reduced-price meals at area schools as of Tuesday.

"Cayden’s efforts are very generous and we’re proud of him for that," Tom Gould, director of public relations at the Howell Public School District, told MLive.com.

According to Gould, when a student's lunch account reaches a balance of negative $5, school protocol requires that the student receive an alternative sandwich, fruit and milk lunch in place of a hot meal.

"Like a lot of districts, we use accounts where parents add money to their students’ accounts," Gould told MLive.com, adding that when a student's account becomes negative, parents are notified.

"While that’s happening we work with the parents to resolve that balance," Gould added. "No one in our district would ever go hungry if they didn’t have money on that account."

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