Businessman seeks donations to pay off students’ lunch debt

Recently at church, Joe Wright was part of a small group discussing ways to help the community.

In trying to figure out what he could do, something popped in his mind one day.

He thought his good deed could be collecting donations to help pay off negative balances for school lunch accounts.

“I’ve got three kids of my own, and I know a bunch of people struggle with paying for student lunches,” the Seymour man said. “It just came to my heart that maybe I could help out in the community in some way.”

On May 13, he posted this on the Facebook page of his business, Tech Guy Heating and Cooling: “We want to pay off the school lunch bill for all of Jackson County, but we will need your help, We need to raise $900, so we will be doing a dollar-for-dollar match up to $450. If you want to chip in to help families in our local communities, just send us a message. We are looking forward to working together on this exciting project.”

It has received nearly 30 reactions, a dozen comments and about 90 shares.

Initially, he contacted the Seymour Community School Corp. food services department and learned students owe around $900.

“It was actually a lot less than what I expected,” Wright said. “I expected it to be more.”

So far, he has received checks from several people. He hopes to raise the money needed by the end of the school year.

“Nobody has really asked why. It’s just, ‘Hey, how can we help?’” Wright said. “It’s awesome. Everybody’s got a little bit of heart in them that they just want to help out in the community.”

If he raises enough money, Wright said he would like to help students from other county schools pay off their lunch debt.

In checking with the public school corporations, the negative balances are nearly $680 for Brownstown Central, $180 for Medora and $80 for Crothersville.

Any leftover money in the end will go to the schools to put toward lunches for next school year, Wright said.

Stacey Townsend, food services director for Seymour Community School Corp., said she occasionally receives money from people throughout the school year to cover students’ debt, and that goes into a donation fund.

“We’ve got some generous people in the community donate toward that,” she said.

The offer from Wright, however, was a first.

“Oh, it’s amazing,” she said of her reaction to receiving his call. “It’s a great benefit to our students to be able to start next school year with a clean slate. We’re grateful for the help. We know our families are appreciative of the help, and it’s a wonderful, positive thing.”

On the Tech Guy Facebook page, Wright states it’s a biblically based business founded upon Verse 22:1 in the book of Proverbs: “Choose a good reputation over great riches. Being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold.”

“I have built my business based on this verse, as it best resembles my intentions and integrity,” he wrote.

He said nobody will know how much money you had growing up, but they will remember what type of person you were and what you did for others. That’s why he chose to reach out and help students.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”At a glance” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

If you want to help pay off the negative balances for Jackson County students’ school lunch accounts, mail a check to Tech Guy Heating and Cooling, 1010 N. O’Brien St., Seymour, IN 47274 or call 812-252-4549 to arrange donation pickup.