A child’s father at the Seattle Public Schools district was deeply disturbed after going through stories of children being shamed in several districts for not being able to pay for their lunch. The vulnerable children were required to wear wristbands or hand stamps or do extra chores, or were even given an alternative meal — if they did not have enough money to pay for their lunch bills.
Seattle resident, Jeffrey Lew, who graduated from Seattle’s public school system, decided to take a step and help them by paying off the school district’s lunch debt.
"Reading that article was really awful," Lew told NBC News. "It broke my heart because I was thinking if that was my son at school, and they forced him to clean tables or toss food away, I'd be a very angry parent. No kid should be shamed regardless of if they have money to buy lunch."
The Good Samaritan initially called his son’s school to ask about its lunch debt amount. It was $97.10—this was when Lew launched a GoFundMe campaign to help students pay for their debts, without being humiliated. The donations came in and his target was met within a few days.
So he decided to help the entire Seattle school district to pay its lunch debt. The total lunch debt was $20,000. He increased the amount on his GoFundMe page, but the donations kept pouring in and Lew raised more than $40,000.
“As a parent and graduate of the Seattle Public Schools, I am trying to help ease the burden of these families and make sure these children get to eat a nutritious meal each day at school,” Lew wrote on the fundraising website. “I used to look forward to school lunches each day. I am sure these children feel the same!”
Lew’s campaign attracted several people, including Safeway Foundation and singer-songwriter John Legend, who donated $5000 for this noble cause.
My pleasure! We should have free lunch for all of our public students!— John Legend (@johnlegend) May 29, 2017
And while the headlines maybe full of negative news, its people like Lew who make us believe that not all is lost. His act of kindness has given many children a reason to smile.