Eight Year Old Puts Humanism on Display

Here’s a story that is both sad and thrilling at the same time. It’s sad that there are kids who can’t afford to eat lunch while at school, but I love the example showed by this young kid here in Michigan to raise money to make sure they can. Whether he knows it or not, he is setting an example for all of us.

When 8-year-old Cayden Taipalus saw that some of this fellow classmates at school were forced to forgo hot meals because their lunch account balances had dipped into the negative, he came home upset. His school’s policy was to allow students to go $5 into the negative before replacing their regular hot meals with cheese sandwiches and milk, according to Tom Gould, director of public relations for the Howell Public School District where Cayden attends…

So he decided to do something about it. First, he and his mom began to collect empty bottles and cans and exchanging them as part of a recycling program. That got him about $64, and bought about 150 lunches. Pretty impressive for an 8-year-old, but Cayden was just warming up…

After he got a little local press for his act of kindness, people began contacting his family asking what they could do to help. Seeing an opportunity to make a bid difference, he started a campaign on an online fundraising site that got money to put towards his schools lunch program. The dollars began pouring in.

Hundreds of people from across the United States and abroad have donated, pitching in a staggering $10,800 to the cause so far. That’s enough money to pay for well over 4,000 school lunches. Cheese sandwiches will be a distant memory. Cayden probably just got a lot more friends around the school yard.

Clearly the project has outgrown it’s original purpose, so instead of calling it a day, Cayden and his mother have begun going to other schools to pay off their account balances too. Cayden says his goal is to raise enough money to help all students in his county.

Rock on, young man. And thank you for your generosity and your example.

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  • Cuttlefish

    Prediction: he will be seen as an example of how free enterprise, rather than government, is the solution to problems like this, and people will point to his example as they slash school budgets.

  • http://www.gregory-gadow.net Gregory in Seattle

    An excellent example for us all.

    I find it quite sad, though, that so many student families are so poor that they cannot pay off $5 for a semi-decent lunch. What the bloody hell is wrong with this country? I suppose I should be grateful that the district isn’t starving the kids.

  • Synfandel

    That got him about $64, and bought about 150 lunches.

    …pitching in a staggering $10,800 to the cause so far. That’s enough money to pay for well over 4,000 school lunches.

    Does a school lunch cost 43¢ or $2.70?

  • Michael Heath

    Cuttlefish writes:

    Prediction: he will be seen as an example of how free enterprise, rather than government, is the solution to problems like this, and people will point to his example as they slash school budgets.

    My edit correction captures my observation. It’s happening in my hometown now given that the local Tea Baggers were able to shut-down our town’s only local homeless shelter, where churches now rotate taking on this task.

    I applaud Cayden Taipalus’s efforts. But the only credible reaction I see, if we’re a moral people, with integrity, and authentically care about optimal results, is to insure sufficient tax expenditures are allocated towards eradicating child hunger.

    Young Mr. Taipalus’ example should serve notice that there’s a problem which we can easily eradicate. His example is not that he’s solving a problem – he’s merely temporarily containing it; where conservative Christians remain the predominate voting base obstructing the eradication of childhood hunger in this country as we saw once again during the development of the last farm bill that recently passed.

  • dingojack

    Booby Jindal’s dad would have paid off his school lunch debt with a handshake…. honest!



    PS: Synfandel – 25312.5 > 4000, hence more than 4000.

  • Michael Heath

    In my prior post I meant to replace “free enterprise” with “private charity”.

  • dingojack

    MH – There was a paper on social mobility recently that came to the conclusion that the areas of the country where local taxes (such as property taxes and the like) are spent on local infrastructure (schools, roads, cops and so on) improves the chance of social mobility. I can’t recall the name of the author nor the institution he came from, do you any ideas?



  • http://www.pixelated-reality.com Alareth

    Prediction: he will be seen as an example of how free enterprise, rather than government, is the solution to problems like this, and people will point to his example as they slash school budgets.

    I predict some brave tea partier will come forward to explain how this will lead us down the path to a communist sharia hell and bravely propse legislation to prevent anyone from for paying someone elses school lunch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/set.v.kouwenhoven Set Kouwenhoven

    @Cuttlefish—that’s the exact same thing that went through my mind.

  • Synfandel

    @5 dingojack wrote:

    PS: Synfandel – 25312.5 > 4000, hence more than 4000.

    Point taken. At 43¢ per meal, $10,800 could buy 249,125 more (or about 62 times more) than 4,000 meals. So, I find myself wondering why the number 4,000 is mentioned. I also find myself wondering what sort of hot meal the kids are getting at 43¢ per serving.

  • acroyear

    My only problem with this?

    So long as a kid looking cute can get people to pony up the cash voluntarily, those who don’t feel obligated to be a part of this society (by virtue of lobbying for lower taxes and lower school expenditures) will continue to feel obligated to act like dicks, because someone else will pick up the tab they refuse to pay.

    If the money comes from somewhere else, and so easily (at first), then they are justified in their insistence that the government (and they) don’t have to contribute to the society they live in, regardless of the benefits it brought them.

  • davefitz

    Let’s all hope that Cayden’s family isn’t atheist. Otherwise the school might reject his dirty, heathen money and kids might not eat lunch.

  • kimberlyherbert

    It is a lovely story but as a public school teacher I’m confused about why this is necessary. Are the schools in this area refusing to participate in free/reduced program? At my school parents are notified if their child is low on funds. If the parent doesn’t pay, the office checks if they have applied for free or reduced lunch. If they haven’t they are contacted by phone and told we are sending the paperwork (1 front back sheet) home with the oldest child. Usually they send it back. If they don’t the office and classroom teachers keep encouraging them to fill out the paperwork until they do.

    With the 80 kids in 2nd grade this year, only one has received the sandwich. The family owed about $100 from 5 kids accounts. Mom came in and go the accounts up to date the next morning.

  • freehand

    kimberlyherbert – a number of the kids’ families were behind in payments, and the kids were getting cheese sandwiches and milk. They weren’t starving (at lunch time, at least), but the lunches were more boring and less nutritious (assuming that the normal lunches could be considered nutritious, I don’t know).

  • leonardschneider

    I swear even when I’m happy, and I try to not cuss in front of eight year old kids, so I will simply quote Jeff Spicoli:

    Awesome! Totally Awesome!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=523300770 stuartsmith


    I’m assuming the hot meals are subsidized, and the money is only covering the portion that would be the parents responsibility, making the lunches much cheaper than they would otherwise be. Add in the economies of scale, and the price should be fairly low.

    Secondly, maybe ‘well over 4000’ lunches is all that was needed at his school. The article says he’s looking into funding other schools in the region as well, so presumably there’s money left over.