South Carolina mom donates leftover lunch money to district debt

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Trays of food at a school cafeteria. (KOIN)

GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA)–A small act of kindness has had a ripple effect in Greenville County Schools. The mom who started it all says it’s about leaving a place better than how you found it.

It started when Stephanie Hollis noticed leftover cash in her graduating senior’s lunch account.

“I was in her Backpack account and saw a notice that I needed to transfer her lunch account balance,” Hollis said.

It wasn’t much, just $35, but Hollis thought she could do something good with it.

“I just said, you know what I’m curious if I can just transfer this to somebody who really needs it. Instead of having it sit in an unused account for a few years,” Hollis said.

The district helped her make it happen and she shared the success on Facebook.

“Within a few hours, it had about 25 shares. Nothing dramatic but it was starting to get a little traction,” Hollis said.

“It got shared and shared and shared and just kind of went semi viral,” Joe Urban, the Director of Food and Nutrition Services for the district, said.

Urban says the pandemic has been tough on families.

“People that were experiencing food insecurity before, that started reaching different levels of parents who have never experienced that before,” he said.

Even though the USDA has offered free lunch and breakfast at schools since the start of the pandemic, Urban says the district has more than $360,000 of school lunch debt. He says even a little bit helps.

“It’s a testament to our community. We’ve always had a strong community that’s willing to help others. Especially those less fortunate then themselves,” Urban said.

Since Hollis shared what she did the district has received nearly $800 in similar donations.

“Your efforts don’t have to be grandiose and huge, small efforts can make an impact on somebody else,” she said.

She says it’s all about paying it forward.

“We can always help each other on the way. And that’s what I want my kids to take away from that,” Hollis said.

The federal free breakfast and lunch program will extend through this summer and next school year.

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