Only 8, but He Raised $20,000 So Fellow Students Could Eat Lunch*
By Dominic Kelly
An 8-year-old boy in Howell, Michigan is proving that there are still plenty of good people in the world after launching a fundraising effort to make sure that his classmates are able to have hot lunches at school, even when their parents can’t afford it.
Third-grader Cayden Taipalus was moved to start the campaign after a friend at school was given a sandwich rather than the hot lunch that all the other kids got because he had an unpaid negative balance on his account. Taipalus was upset that his classmate was unable to get a hot lunch, so instead of doing nothing, he sprung into action and got the fundraising effort started online.
“I just want to make kids have a better lunch,” said Taipalus to NBC’s Today.
According to Taipalus’s mother Amber Peters, what started out as a small gesture to help his fellow students turned into a huge effort that raised enough money to make sure students in the entire county had hot meals to eat.
“We went from just paying off his elementary school to paying off the entire Livingston County,” said Peters.
“Doing something little can turn into something big and go a long way. Paying it forward is a big deal.”
Thomas Gould, director of public relations for Howell Public Schools, says Taipalus’s campaign is admirable, but he makes sure to mention that no child ever goes hungry.
“What Cayden is doing is very generous and it shows how caring all of our students are,” said Gould. “It’s also important to know that all of our kids are offered lunch no matter what.”
Still, Peters says that offering students who have negative balances a cold sandwich isn’t right.
“They are sitting there with a cheese sandwich on their plate when the child next to them is having French toast, milk, juice,” said Peters. “The idea is to remove the negative stigma.”
As of today, the online fundraising campaign started by 8-year-old Cayden Taipalus has $19,275, just $75 away from its $20,000 goal.