HOWELL (WWJ)-For kids growing up, there are always issues with bullying and other social problems.

One local 8-year-old is looking to make a difference with your help.

Cayden Taipalus has touched millions around the world after he launched an initiative to help pay for lunches of students from low-income families in Livingston County.

The idea came after Taipalus had a saddening moment during lunchtime one day at Challanger Elementary in Howell.

“I was in lunch one day, in the lunch line getting hot lunch,” Taipalus said. “A kid in front of me didn’t have enough money on their account, so it made me sad.”

Young Cayden wanted them to be like others who get to experience a hot lunch, so that was the day that the 8-year-old’s life changed forever.

He asked his mom if he could earn money to help the kids who couldn’t get a hot lunch, and she suggested that he earn some cash.

“I collected bottles and went to my family, friends and neighbors to get money,” Taipalus said.

After that, he returned to school with $64 in his pocket.

“Cayden came in, handed over the money and said, ‘can you pay off each lunch account,’” One school official said.

The family then helped him set up an account on, and then the story went viral. So far Cayden has collected $14,000 dollars, and on Monday, Cayden went ahead and paid for 4,000 school lunches.

His mom Amber says Cayden’s always the one to step up in a time of need.

“He’ll go shovel for the neighbors,” Amber said. “He will do whatever he can in the classroom for others.”

Now people everywhere are acknowledging the young man’s good deeds, yet young Cayden is still in shock over the reaction he is getting for paying it forward to classmates.

“I’m just surprised,” Taipalus said. “Because it was small and it turned so big.”

Every student is offered an alternate lunch that includes a sandwich, juice and fruit when they can’t afford the hot lunch options.

Nearly 30 percent of students in Livingston County are enrolled for free- or reduced-priced lunch, a federal program offered to students from low-income families.

To donate to Cayden’s school lunch fundraiser, go here.


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