(TMU) — A five-year-old student in San Diego is using hot cocoa and fresh cookies to give an elementary lesson in human kindness for the holidays by helping to clear the negative lunch balances of 123 of her classmates.
Katelynn Hardee is a kindergartner at Breeze Hill Elementary School and, like other children her age, she has not only a curious disposition but also a strong sense of empathy.
When Katelynn overheard another student’s mom saying that she was having a tough time paying for school-related expenses, she began asking questions about why that would ever be the case.
Without going into too much detail, Katelynn’s mother Karina Hardee gave her the basic gist that some people lack the basic things that others have. Karina told KSWB:
“She’s very inquisitive.
So she started asking me a bunch of questions and I tried to answer as best as I could without too much for a 5-year-old, and just explained to her that some people aren’t as fortunate as us.”
The notion that not everyone had the basics in life immediately resonated with young Katelynn, who began to devise a plan. She said:
“I can give money to the lunch people so they’ll have money.”
Katelynn, who already had experience setting up lemonade stands during the summer, then asked her mom if they could set up a stand to sell hot cocoa and cookies. Any money raised could then be donated to the school.
The young girl then set to work baking cookies and making hot cocoa before devoting three hours of her weekend to selling her homemade treats.
Before long, word began to spread about Katelynn’s kindness and the good cause for which she was raising funds. Business quickly began booming.
On Monday, Karina left a note for the school telling her about what they had accomplished. She explained:
“I just left a note saying my daughter held a hot cocoa fundraiser over the weekend and would love to donate the money to any of the negative accounts.”
The funds raised ended up being sufficient to pay off the lunch balances for 123 students.
Katelynn explained that she did it “so they can lunch and snack.”
Jamie Phillips, the director of Child Nutrition Services for Vista Unified School District, told KNSD:
“It is truly inspiring to see Katelynn’s compassion and generous nature utilized to help those less fortunate.”
In recognition of her selfless actions, Katelynn was given an award by the school principal and the school’s cafeteria head.
School lunch debt is a growing problem in the U.S. and has increasingly made headlines this past year, with some students being shamed for their families’ inability to pay for their meals, or indebted students receiving poor “alternative” meals to the typical lunches served to students.
Fortunately, this past October, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed new legislation into law that guarantees all students will receive a lunch even if their parents or guardians haven’t paid their meal fees. The law, effective Jan. 1, 2020, also bans the public shaming of students whose families can’t pay the fees.
Either way, we’re sure that Katelynn’s actions have brightened the holidays for many of her classmates.