Child pays off lunch debt for over 120 classmates with stand selling cider, cocoa and cookies

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Katelynn Hardee, a kindergartener, was confused this holiday season when she overheard a parent talking about how she was having a hard time paying for an after school program.

“She started asking me a lot of questions and I just tried to explain to her that sometimes people aren’t as fortunate and that we need to try to be kind and give when we can,” Karina Hardee, Katelynn’s mom, told CNN.

“It’s all about kindness. Especially this holiday season, and with everything that’s going on in the world, we just need a little bit more kindness out there,” Hardee said.

So Katelynn set up a stand last week selling cider, hot cocoa and cookies in order to help her fellow students. The 5-year-old made $80, which she and her mom donated to her school, Breeze Hill Elementary School in Vista, Calif., to pay off the negative lunch balances of 123 students, CNN reported. 

“Everybody is just so proud and happy, and other students are already talking about ways they can also make a difference,” Breeze Hill principal Lori Higley told CNN. “It goes to show that even one small, kind act from a 5-year-old can mean the difference for someone in their life.”

But Katelynn’s efforts didn’t stop at paying off her classmates’ lunch debts. Her mom told CNN that the 5-year-old’s next goal is to raise enough money to pay off all of the lunch debt at her school in addition to the “thousands of negative accounts” at all of the schools in the Vista Unified School District.

She is calling the project #KiKisKindnessProject and involving her peers. Other students and staff at Breeze Hill will host stands selling hot cocoa and baked goods Saturday to raise more money to pay off lunch debts at school, CNN reported. 

After all of the accounts in the district have been paid off, Katelynn will use the money raised to help fund school programs that are at risk of being removed due to school budget cuts, CNN reported. 

A Fundly page set up for Katelynn’s project has raised $375 of a listed $50,000 goal as of Tuesday afternoon.

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