8-year-old boy starts campaign to help pay for student lunches - WKRN News 2

8-year-old boy starts campaign to help pay for student lunches

Photo Courtesy of ABC News Photo Courtesy of ABC News
HOWELL, Mich. -

An elementary school student from Howell, Mich. has launched a campaign to help purchase lunches for students from low-income families.

Cayden Taipalus, 8, a student at Challenger Elementary School, started "Pay It Forward: No Kid Goes Hungry" two weeks ago after witnessing a student get denied his hot lunch because he couldn't afford it.

Beginning at his elementary school, the program now pays off delinquent lunch accounts and purchases hot lunches for the entire county. The campaign has raised over $20,000 with over 600 contributors.

According to the project's Facebook page, they were able to pay for 4,000 lunches on Thursday alone.

Taipalus' first donation was only $64.

"I am so very proud of my son," his mom, Amber Peters, told ABC News. "He is only 8 years old and to grasp the concept around this is just amazing in my eyes. He has a heart of gold."

School officials told ABC News that students are offered an alternate lunch if they cannot afford the hot lunch. The alternate lunch consists of a sandwich, juice and fruit. Nearly 30 percent of Livingston County students from low-income families are enrolled in a federal program offering free or reduced lunches.

"They are sitting there with a cheese sandwich on their plate when the child next to them is having French toast, milk, juice," Peters said.

She told ABC News that while some students might not be bothered by the alternate lunch, some students are.

"The idea is to remove the negative stigma," she said.

Together, the 8-year-old and his mom started raising money by recycling cans and bottles. Eventually, their efforts on Facebook were notice by friends, family and neighbors who wanted to help. The campaign took off from there, gaining recognition as far as Hong Kong.

Before class starts, Taipalus likes to deliver the money to the schools personally.

*ABC News contributed to this story.

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