Couple walks into school and pays off all student lunch balances

Lunch line at Pflugerville ISD (KXAN Photo)
Lunch line at Pflugerville ISD (KXAN Photo)

PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — Parents and teachers at Rowe Lane Elementary are buzzing about some unexpected visitors.

A couple walked into the front office last week with their checkbook in hand, and asked to speak to the school principal.

Principal Ben O’Connor had never seen the couple before. “They said, ‘we don’t have any kids that go to Rowe Lane, but we had a niece who went through. You guys are our neighborhood school, so we thought — we want to drop by and do something,”‘ said O’Connor.

They had seen a story on the news about someone who paid off student lunch balances and wanted to do the same for the campus of 960 students. “I was blown away,” said O’Connor. “I go, ‘are you kidding me?”

He says this time of year, after the holidays, is when families rack up the most lunchroom debt. The reasons can be financial, or simply forgetting to add money to the account.

The donors asked for privacy even when it came to the total amount they paid off, but O’Connor says it was hundreds of dollars.

“I just think it’s such a wonderful gesture this day and age,” said Abby Jenson, who has two children at Rowe Lane Elementary. She read about the generosity on the PTA Facebook page. “I appreciate that they want to be anonymous, but I kind of wish we could all send them a thank you note.”

Fourth grader Nolan Roldan eats the school cafeteria food almost every day. “It was just so kind and generous, and made a lot of the students happy,” said Roldan, who recalls one time his own mom forgot to add money to his account. “I forgave her.”

February happens to be kindness month, and Feb. 17 is Random Acts of Kindness Day. What started with one unexpected gesture is already leading more people to consider ways they can help someone, too.

“I don’t know if they even realized how far this would spread, but people are talking about this, people are asking, ‘hey, what can I do?'” said O’Connor.

O’Connor says one of the best ways people can help is by giving their time to students by reading or mentoring.

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