An 8-year-old Howell, Michigan, boy made a huge difference in his school when he launched a campaign to pay for the lunches of fellow students who couldn't afford it.
Hayden Taipans launched the campaign, called Pay It Forward: No Kid Goes Hungry, after he saw one student struggle to buy lunch for himself.
“Cayden was in school buying his lunch and the little boy in front of him had to put down his hot lunch due to no funds on his lunch account,” his mother, Amber Peters, told ABC News. “It upset the little boy, which in turn upset Cayden."
Cayden and his mother began recycling cans and bottles to raise money, but friends and neighbors soon noticed their efforts and offered to help. Word soon spread and they were getting donations from as far as Hong Kong, China. In just two weeks, they reach nearly $7,000 in donations -- buying lunch for over 300 students. They were soon able to reach an astonishing 5,000 students.
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“We went from just paying off his elementary school to paying off the entire Livingston County,” Peters said. Donations ultimately skyrocketed to over $10,000 for his cause.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined this would happen,” Peters told Today. “He’s just a little local boy trying to do some good.”
Cayden and his mother personally deliver checks to schools, stopping by before class. His first donation was a $64 check that paid for almost 150 lunches.
“Doing something little can turn into something big and go a long way. Paying it forward is a big deal,” Peters said.
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The boy’s school noticed his efforts as well, applauding him for reaching out to fellow students.
“We’re proud of Cayden’s efforts,” said Thomas Gould, public relations director for Howell Public Schools. “It’s such a great thing for an 8-year-old to see something like that and take the initiative to try and make a change.”
The story of Cayden’s good deed prompted applause from readers across the world.
“Beautiful young man. In 2016 living in a country that blows federal and state money on absurd things. Its time Americans demanded financial allotment for meals for all students. Schools are funded by our taxes. Demand the reduction of [wasteful] spending and put it to our schools,” one reader wrote on Shared’s Facebook page.
“While it's wonderful that he has such a big heart, it's also appalling that he felt like he had to do this. I'm sure the cafeteria workers dump extra food in the trash each day that could have fed the few children that might not have money in their account a hot meal. I'm glad my school system doesn't follow this practice,” another added.