Washington boy pays off school’s lunch debts by selling keychains

VANCOUVER, Wash. — An 8-year-old boy in Washington is a hero at several schools after he raised enough money to pay off all school lunch debts.

Keoni Ching, of Vancouver, attends Benjamin Franklin Elementary School. He presented the school with a check for $4,015 Friday after selling keychains for $5 apiece, KATU reported. The money will pay off debts at Franklin Elementary and at six other area schools, according to CNN.

Franklin Principal Woody Howard said the school was celebrating kindness week, adding that Keoni went above and beyond with his generous act.

“He wanted to do something that was kind and he started it outside of kindness week,” Howard told KATU. “So, it really turned into a situation where he is taking an act of kindness and then doing it year-round.”

Keoni said he was inspired by San Francisco 49ers defensive back Richard Sherman, who paid off more than $27,000 to cover students’ school lunch debt, CNN reported.

Keoni decided making keychains was the perfect project to raise cash.

“I love keychains. They look good on my backpack," the boy told CNN.

Word quickly spread about Keoni’s project, and orders began to come from all over the country.

“We have sent keychains to Alaska, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Arizona, all over the country,” Keoni’s mother, April Ching, told CNN. “There was one lady who said she wanted $100 worth of keychains so that she could just hand them out to people. ... There were several people who bought one keychain and gave (Keoni) a hundred bucks. It was absolutely amazing how much support the community showed for his whole project.”

Keoni’s check will be split among seven schools, with $1,000 going to Franklin Elementary, CNN reported. The remainder will go to six other schools, which will receive $500 apiece to eliminate lunch debts.

“Lunches here are about $2. But if you have two or three kids and for whatever reason, you’ve missed (paying for) a week of lunch or breakfasts, that adds up pretty quickly,” Howard told CNN. “This type of a gift takes a little bit of pressure off of your family.”

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