California kindergartner pays off lunch debt for 123 students by selling cocoa, cookies

Cookies, compassion and cocoa -- and a lot of charity -- produced a winning combination for a 5-year-old California girl. Students in her school district have plenty to be thankful for.

Katelynn Hardee, who attends kindergarten at Breeze Hill Elementary School in Vista, erased the school lunch debt for 123 students in her school district by selling cookies and cocoa, KNSD reported.

“I don’t want people to be hungry,” Katelynn told the television station.

Katelynn said her idea to erase her classmates’ debt came when she overheard another student’s mother talk about how hard it was to pay for something.

"She's very inquisitive," Katelynn's mother, Karina Hardee, told KSWB. "So she started asking me a bunch of questions and I tried to answer as best as I could without too much for a 5-year-old, and just explained to her that some people aren't as fortunate as us."

Katelynn asked her mother if she could set up a stand to sell hot cocoa and cookies, the television station reported. Katelynn originally wanted to donate the money to charity, but then decided to give it to the Vista Unified School District.

Katelynn baked the cookies and made the hot cocoa herself, then spent three hours over the weekend selling her wares, KNSD reported.

On Monday, Karina Hardee contacted school district officials.

"I just left a note saying my daughter held a hot cocoa fundraiser over the weekend and would love to donate the money to any of the negative accounts," Karina Hardee told KNSD.

"It is truly inspiring to see Katelynn’s compassion and generous nature utilized to help those less fortunate,” Jamie Phillips, Director of Child Nutrition Services for Vista Unified School District, told the television station.

Katelynn was honored with an award by her school principal, Lori Higley, and the school's cafeteria lead, Teresa Sharp, KNSD reported.

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