Good Neighbors

8-Year-Old Raises $4K To Pay Off Student Lunch Debt At His School

What started as a school project is now helping countless others in his community.

Keoni Ching may only be 8 years old, but he's doing some very big things to help others.

The second grader recently celebrated Kindness Week with his classmates at Benjamin Franklin High School in Vancouver, WA.

Keoni wasn't sure what he wanted to do for his kindness project. When his parents shared a recent news article with him about San Francisco 49ers player Richard Sherman who recently paid off school lunch debt at two schools, he was inspired.

Keoni started making custom "Kindness Keychains" with beads that spelled out names and other messages and sold them for five dollars each. Once word started to get out about his project, people from all over the country wanted to buy one.


"We have sent keychains to Alaska, Rhode Island, Minnesota, Arizona, all over the country," Keoni's mom April told CNN. "There was one lady who said she wanted $100 worth of keychains so that she could just hand them out to people. It was absolutely amazing how much support the community showed for his whole project."

Keoni's family helped him make more than 300 keychains, which (along with some cash donations) brought in over $4K to go toward paying off student lunch debt at his school.


He presented the check (which was bigger than him!) to his school's principal last week.

The amount covered all of the current debt at Franklin Elementary and the rest went to six other schools in the district, which will get $500 each to clear their own lunch debts.

Woody Howard, Franklin Elementary's principal, praised Keoni's act of kindness and said how he's helping to solve a common problem that's plaguing schools all over the country.

"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 said. "This type of a gift takes a little bit of pressure off of your family."

Read about another kiddo doing her part to pay off student lunch debt in her community: Five-Year-Old Pays Off The Lunch Debts Of Other Kids

Schools in Oregon and Washington have racked up hundreds of thousands of dollars of student lunch debt since bills to stop "lunch shaming" have been passed in both states. The bill states that schools can no longer identify or tell a student that they don't have enough money in their accounts.

While the politics of student lunch debt might not make much sense to Keoni, the desire to help his classmates does. When asked why he thinks helping others is important, he said, "it just makes the world a better place."


Kudos to Keoni, who's showing that you're never too young to spread kindness.

How can you start something good?

If you would like to purchase a Kindness Keychain, you can email

Inspired by Keoni's act of kindness? You may not be able to pay off an entire school's lunch debt, but you can help pay off overdue school lunch balances in a district near you.

You can start a crowdfunding campaign (like this one), or donate to organizations that are already in place (like this one).

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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