Word-Of-the-Week #803: Fortunate

December 26, 2019 by  

Fortunate – having more advantages than other people.

Do you believe you should help others that are less fortunate then you? When was the last time you did that?

This week Kindergartner pays off lunch money owed by classmates. Five-year-old Katelynn Hardee of Vista held a cocoa and cookies fundraiser,” by Deborah Sullivan Brennan is a great follow up to the last three WOW’s!

“After a Vista kindergartener learned of hardships faced by some of her classmates, she sold hot cocoa and cookies to pay off the lunch money they owed.

Katelynn Hardee, 5, held a hot cocoa stand in front of her home Sunday, aiming to help end hunger with proceeds from the treats.

She wanted to make sure that other students “can have a snack and lunch,” she said. “If they don’t, their tummies grumble.”

Her goodies, along with some handmade artwork, brought in $78, which helped square up lunch accounts for 123 other students with small balances, said Jamie Phillips, director of child nutrition services for Vista Unified School District.

“It’s amazing to see a 5-year-old do a fundraiser,” Phillips said.

Katelynn, a student at Breeze Hill Elementary School, loves art, cooking, and asking questions, her mother Karina Hardee said. So when she heard another mother discuss her difficulty covering the bill for the after-school program, Katelynn asked her mom about it.

“I tried to explain that we need to be kind and give back to others who are not as fortunate,” Karina Hardee said.

Katelynn had done a lemonade stand over the summer, so she decided to sell hot cocoa this time, and donate the money to help kids who couldn’t pay for lunches. She and her mom mixed up chocolate and milk, and baked sugar cookies shaped like snowmen, snowflakes, presents and Christmas trees.

“I decorated them with icing and gumball toppings,” Katelynn said.

Friends, neighbors and passers-by stopped for snacks, and Katelynn made $48. She raised another $30 with artwork she is making for a family friend. Phillips used that donation to clear the balances on 123 lunch accounts.

That act of charity “is not typical of a 5-year-old, but for Katelynn I could see that,” her teacher Rachel Ellis said. “She’s very mature for her age.” 

Over 1,000 students in the district have negative balances ranging from less than a dollar to $10 or more, Phillips said. In Vista, nearly 65 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunches based on their family income. Some other students might be eligible, but did not submit the application in time, he said. In other cases, families have income that is too high to qualify for the meal program, but not quite enough to make ends meet. 

“The cost of living here is so much higher” than other communities, he said. “You could not qualify for free and reduced meals, and could still not be at a livable income.” 

Schools still provide meals even when students owe money, but the nutrition department sends notices reminding their families to pay. If they don’t pay by the end of the year, he said, the balance doesn’t carry over. Instead, the school district reimburses the nutrition department from the general fund. But that diverts funds from other programs, and the district is currently facing budget deficits.

Phillips said anyone can donate to help pay down the lunch balances and some seniors contribute the money left over in their own lunch accounts when they graduate. Katelynn’s fundraiser has already inspired more giving; another donor just paid to clear all the lunch balances at Major General Raymond Murray High School, Phillips said.

“It’s really inspiring,” Ellis said. “When I told my class, they said, ‘We can do that? I want to do a lemonade stand.’”

Katelynn thinks her donation probably made her classmates happy, and said she wants to do more lemonade and cocoa stands in the future.”

This week’s focus is on being fortunate. Do you appreciate all that you have? Are you more generous during the holiday season? If a 5-year-old can make a difference don’t you think you can do something to help those that are less fortunate than you?

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