Missouri Teen Creates GoFundMe Campaign To Help Students Pay Off Lunch Debt


Fifteen-year-old DeJuan Strickland has made headlines throughout the year for raising thousands of dollars to eliminate school lunch debt for students at his former elementary school. 

The teen from St. Louis, Mo. launched the Team Tech Boy Lunch Heroes fundraising initiative via GoFundMe after recalling his experience with food insecurity when he was in the fourth grade. He says he is committed to ensuring that kids don’t go hungry at school. 

“You know with my experience in fourth grade, and not having enough money to pay for my lunch and having to sit at a table, watch other kids eat their food, while I couldn’t eat anything, it was rough for me. And I don’t want other kids to experience that,” he tells ESSENCE.

With the support of his mom, the resourceful teen started the campaign earlier this year to help pay off as much lunch debt as possible at his former elementary school. Strickland began the fund to raise $400 but has since raised over $8,400 and counting, which has allowed him to help students at several schools. 

According to The Education Data Initiative, the national public school meal debt is $262 million annually. The education research group estimates Missouri has 243,110 food-insecure children, totaling $43,905,666 in school meal debt.

Since launching his Teen Tech Boy Lunch Heroes fundraising initiative, Strickland has not only been able to make a difference at his former school, but he has also helped alleviate the lunch debt for students across the Hazelwood School District in Missouri, which includes over 25 schools.

Missouri Teen Creates GoFundMe Campaign To Help Students Pay Off Lunch Debt
Photo Credit: GoFundMe

“Honestly, it just gave me more motivation to keep going just to keep, like, pushing on and to try to help as many kids as possible because I’m able to see the difference and impact, and it’s just honestly amazing,” Strickland says. 

In November, this talented teen was named a GoFundMe Hero for his outstanding efforts with his fundraising initiative. He was also recently a guest on The Jennifer Hudson Show, which highlighted his efforts and presented him with a check for $5,000 so that he could help even more kids.

Strickland, who is also passionate about comic books and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), shared some of his other meaningful activities, such as hosting STEM camps to improve the representation of African Americans in these important fields. He also shared that he has a comic book series, Tech Boy and Science Girl,  about teenagers who use science and technology to battle villains. 

Strickland attributes his charitable spirit to his mother, who instilled in him the importance of giving back from a young age. Her practice of creating “blessing bags” for those in need shaped his compassionate outlook.

 This talented teen says his future plans include attending M.I.T., becoming a computer programmer, expanding his business, writing more books, and starting a non-profit to combine his love for technology with giving back to the community.

Strickland’s message to other kids is to “follow your dreams because you really can make anything happen.” 


Source link

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply