Community members turning to fundraising platform to pay off school lunch debts

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Organizers for the fundraising platform GoFundMe say a new trend of paying for school lunch debts has recently emerged.

According to a spokesperson, more than 100 campaigns geared towards paying down lunch debts for schools or school districts have popped up. Combined, the campaigns have raised more than $375,000 nationwide.

“There are parents that want to take action in their community and this is a very easy way for them to take action and wipe out lunch debt for a school, for a district, and even a state,” spokesperson Bobby Withorne said.

Indiana is jumping in on the action as well. So far, campaigns based in the Hoosier state have raised more than $25,000.

Contributing to that total is a 2014 campaign launched by Sara Blackburn. Blackburn wanted to pay off the lunch debts for students at Brookview Elementary, her daughter’s school.

“I saw on the news some things about kids getting a peanut butter sandwich or kind of getting pulled out of the crowd for not having enough money in their lunch account. And I just said ok what can we do about it,” she said.

Now, Blackburn says the renewed interest in paying off lunch debts has her motivated to start another campaign.

“Maybe it’s time for me to get out there and do it again,” she said.

The trend has grown so popular that GoFundMe has dedicated its own section to lunch debt campaigns, which can be found here.

“We created a landing page on GoFundMe as a centralized location where parents can go online, or any donor can go online and look at existing campaigns to see if there’s a campaign in their area. If there’s not they can create a campaign on their own. We want to make it as easy as possible for parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents to help their communities help the kids in need and continue to eliminate lunch debt,” Withorne said.

Withorne says the company is dedicated to helping those who want to eliminate school lunch debts. If need be, officials from the site will help connect potential fundraisers with the schools or districts that want to help.

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