TAMPA -- When Natasha Goodley started looking into how many kids had overdue lunch balances at Potter Elementary school, she never thought that would launch a campaign to support most of the failing and underperforming elementary schools in Hillsborough County.

Goodley contacted each of the following schools to ask how much debt was due for lunches:

  • Potter
  • Booker T. Washington
  • Robles
  • Foster
  • Mort
  • Oak Park
  • Sheehy

The debt totaled $3,500 and in just 8 days, half of that goal was met but Goodley doesn’t want it to end after the money is raised.

“I’m looking for donors who want to help these schools continue to pay off their lunch debt,” says Goodley.

Although most of the students at these 7 schools receive free lunch, there are children at each school who pay full price.

“That means these children have parents who work and do not qualify for free lunch. And even with working, the parents are struggling with paying for their child's daily lunch,” says Goodley.

When students come back from winter break, Goodley wants to surprise them with a debt-free start to the new year.

We reached out to Hillsborough County about this, they say many of these kids do qualify for free lunches but their parents have failed to sign the paperwork.

Across the bridge, in St.Petersburg, Gina Wilkins has also been helping feed local families including thousands of kids through her non-profit "The Kind Mouse”

Among many of their services, they provide backpacks filled with food, to get kids through the weekend.

“There are many people in the area who are struggling. They may be working, they're the working poor and they're just having a hard time making ends meet,” says Wilkins.

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