EASLEY — Christmas came a little early to kids who attend Forest Acres Elementary School when a “Secret Santa” surprised students and staff by paying off $1,000 in overdue lunch accounts.
“There’s nothing like a heartwarming act of kindness around Christmas time — after all, the most wonderful time of the year is just as much (if not more) about giving as it is about receiving,” said Forest Acres Principal Darian Byrd. “I wanted to let you know that Forest Acres has witnessed this first hand this week.”
Byrd said there was nearly 100 students as of last week with overdue accounts, but no longer.
“I received a call last week from a ‘Secret Santa’ asking about how to help our students with this,” he said. “I explained to them that for some of our students, the only two meals they get a day are when they’re here at school.”
But the surprise was still to come …
“The ‘Secret Santa’ then told me that they wanted to pay off EVERY account in the entire school,” he said. “Yes, every single account …”
Byrd said the check was dropped off — no questions asked — and all accounts were to be paid immediately.
“When families ask about what happened, please share this incredible act of kindness and ask them to simply find a way to pay it forward,” Byrd said. “There is no one to thank — the donor wishes to stay anonymous.”
The act of generosity is indicative of a growing movement across the country of anonymous donors doing similar deeds.
Back in Jan. 2017, a writer from New York City used her 66,000 social media followers on Twitter to start a campaign of paying overdue lunchroom accounts.
In the months following the Tweet, CBS reported in Minn., an online fundraising effort paid almost $100,000 in lunch debt in Minneapolis schools and $28,000 in St. Paul’s.
“Donors, mostly anonymous, erased $6,000 in debts in Topeka, Kan., $2,000 in Bellevue, Wash., $1,200 in Wilmington, Del., and $900 in Herminie, Penn.,” they reported.
Nearly a year later, people are still stepping up to help out these kids with their anonymous gifts — and it’s catching: SDPC Information Specialist John Eby stated just after the news of Forest Acres went out, the same thing happened over at Central Elementary School.
“It’s just an amazing feeling to know that somebody would want to help,” said Byrd.
Reach Kasie Strickland at 864-855-0355.