We’d like to show the side of the world you don’t normally see on television.
Let me introduce you to Kenny Thompson. A family man living in Houston Texas, who is devoted to helping children to their true potential, by volunteering as mentor and tutor at his local Valley Oaks Elementary School. Kenny works a regular job and has been saving up to by some new pair of Doc Martins for work. What makes Kenny extraordinary is the fact that on finding out some disturbing information, he donated enough money to his local school to pay for over 60 children to have hot school lunches.
There has been a disturbing trend within the schooling system to penalise children when their parents are late or cannot afford the money for school meals. Most families with children had heard whispers of these actions, it wasn't until Kenny Thompson saw the following news report of a Utah schools, not only taking away lunches from children who’s accounts were zero or negative balances, they were throwing the food away as well
This made Kenny wonder if this was happening on his own doorstep and at Valley Oaks where his son goes to school. He found that children were being made to eat bread and cheese (the reduced lunch offering at 40 cents a day) rather than being allowed to eat the hot meals when their lunch accounts were negative. Even worse some children were not even lining up for food, choosing to go hungry rather than be ridiculed by fellow students for being poor.
Kenny couldn't stand by and see this happen, he discussed it with his wife a teacher at Valley Oaks School, who felt the same and on Monday the 6th February 2014, Kenny went into his school and handed over $465 to clear over 60 children’s negative account balances.
Well word spread like wildfire with the parents and the very next day Kenny was interviewed by the local NBC affiliate KPRC , he said ‘ I just wanted the kids to come in and have a decent lunch , just start with a clean slate, so I paid for all the children to have their accounts balanced’
After he paid the money he told another interviewer for Today.com ‘It was the best money I ever spent, it was the best gift I ever gave myself. I went into my car and screamed.’
Kenny Thompson, like all parents believes that school lunch is one of the most basic and vital elements of the education system. Often children come into school without having had a breakfast and the lunch is the one meal that can be ensured, there has been extensive studies done to show that without adequate nutrition mental and physical performance can suffer, especially in young, growing children.
The school has openly expressed its appreciation for Kenny’s actions, one student he mentors broke down crying when he heard, as he had been one of the children going hungry to avoid any bullying.
Already the ripples have begun and it was reported a mother went into the school district office, expressing her desire to pay off children’s accounts just like ‘the man on TV’, Kenny is heart warmed by this, he said ‘They say everything’s bigger in Texas, that means our hearts too.’
Kenny doesn't intend to stop there either; he has already targeted another school with students suffering needlessly. Kenny says it is just plain common sense ‘These are elementary school kids. They don’t need to be worried about finances; they need to be worried about what grade they got in spelling.’
So what about his new Doc Martins? Kenny laughed and said ‘My work boots are still good for a while longer’.
I love this story of unconditional contribution and generosity; I know that this ‘pay it forward’ is being done by adults in coffee shops to pay in advance for the coffees of homeless people. What isn’t right is that in this day and age this needs to be done. I for one am devoted to conscious change just like Kenny.