It can be easy to get caught up in the chaos and stress of the holiday season. But kids have a knack for reminding us all what this time of year is truly about. One such kid, from Grand Haven, Michigan, is inspiring people everywhere this year with her generosity and compassion in a truly unique way.
Lexi Bergeron, a 4th-grader at Ferry Elementary School, was watching the news with her family one morning when she learned that kids from a nearby school district were being denied hot lunch at school on account of their negative school lunch balances. Lexi’s mom, Sara Bergeron, tells Babble that Lexi was heartbroken by this news and began brainstorming how she could help.
“She wanted to pay it forward,” shares Sara. “She has the purest heart … she is also crazy about DIY videos and learning how to make stuff and reuse items to make something fun or pretty.”
Drawing upon both her compassion and creativity, Lexi came up with the idea of donating the money she’d earned ($10 total) from selling “stretchy straw fidgeters” to help these students pay off their school lunch debt. According to her mom, Lexi makes these fidget toys by tying together Loom rubber bands and adding straws and beads. Kids can stretch and play with fidget toys for fun or to keep their hands busy while trying to stay quiet or concentrate in school, she says. Sara immediately expressed her support and suggested that Lexi start off by helping students at her own school who’d been struggling to pay for lunch.
At the time, Lexi was selling her homemade fidgeters for between 50 cents and $1, depending on size. But her idea to donate the money gave her mom an idea, as well.
“After Lexi left for school [that] day, I set up a GoFundMe account,” says Sara, who explains it was to raise additional funds to pay off students’ negative lunch balances. “[Lexi’s] heart was in it and with this I saw an opportunity to teach what one person can do for a community how one person can make a change.”
Sara shares that she expected to raise a little bit of money — $50 or so at most. But the mom of three had no idea how impactful the fundraising efforts would truly be. Soon after Sara shared the GoFundMe page on her Facebook page, friends and family began sharing it as well. Soon, the page was circulating around fast, and well beyond their community. Within a day they had already met their original goal of raising $188 (the estimated amount of the school lunch debt). But they weren’t stopping any time soon.
From there, Sara found out the estimated debt for the entire district ($2,200) and set a new goal, while donations continued coming in. The day after she launched the GoFundMe account, Fox News 17 contacted her family and shared their story with an even wider audience.
“It’s much more than we ever expected,” says Sara. “It’s extraordinary.”
So far, the family has raised $1,972 and they’re still accepting donations. Once they end the campaign, Sara says they’ll be taking the check to their district’s food service department manager who will distribute the funds to the appropriate schools and departments.
“The whole experience for us has been humbling,” shares Sara, “watching our community come together and then watching our country come together on our mission to feed our kids … I really love our hometown and I’m just so surprised and grateful that we are able to help in this way.”