Anonymous donor pays off school lunch debts for needy students

Kids at a Pasco school will get lunch thanks to an anonymous benefactor.

SPRING HILL, Fla. — Pasco County’s Mary Giella Elementary School has a beautiful campus, but 80 percent of the kids who go there come from families living below the poverty line.

So when a man called up offering to help parents who had fallen behind on their children’s school lunch bills, principal George Papaemanuel almost thought it was too good to be true.

“He just said I’ll be in Friday morning,” said Papaemanuel.

The anonymous donor brought a check paying just $400 and brought a handwritten letter explaining why.

“I received the gift of a lifetime when I became an American and was given the opportunity to pursue the American dream,” the donor wrote in his letter to the school.

Today, he’s a successful businessman looking for ways to give back to the same public education system who sent him on the path to success. 

It’s a message that hits home for Papaemanuel.

“I’m first generation.  My dad came over on a boat in the 50’s from Greece… he had nothing…  spoke no English, had no money.  When I met this guy and I heard his story it hit a home run! It blew me away,” said Papaemanuel.

Kids who can’t pay and fall behind on payments are fed a cheese sandwich instead of a hot lunch like the rest of the kids.  Last week’s donation will bring numerous families into good standing.

And even parents who aren’t behind say they’re extremely grateful.

“I know as a parent my kid came home one day and told me they had to eat a cheese sandwich because we didn’t able to provide them lunch that day, so as a parent that touches me a lot,” said parent Alicia Brown.

And while the donor specifically said he wanted no recognition, parent Kiley Stewart had a message anyway.

“Well whoever he is… thank you.  I’m sure there are a lot of families who appreciate that.”

© 2017 WTSP-TV


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