Kenneth Thompson (KT), Gary Barber (GB), and Dakota Gibson (DG)
KT: I was mentoring someone who’s in elementary school. And usually I always walk them through the lunch line, and I remember the lady behind the counter said, ”Oh no, baby, I told you yesterday. You need to bring some money in here if you wanna eat, so you can’t have that today.” I reached for my pocket and I didn’t have any cash on me. And, I immediately thought of you guys, like, ”Man, is this a problem with my other guys?”
GB: And it was.
DG: I was in about sixth grade. I just wanted to go in a corner and hide.
GB: I believe my first time was in the second grade. I went to go sit with my friends and they started laughing at me. So, if I didn’t have enough money, I wouldn’t go to the cafeteria. ‘Cause I don’t want to be embarrassed.
KT: Yeah, it bothered me very much. I come from a single-family household. My mom struggled. And I was one of those kids that didn’t know how I was gonna eat at school every day. So after this happened, I went to my car, I broke down and cried. Came back, and talked to the principal. That’s when I found out it was 66 kids that can’t pay for their lunch. So I made a promise then that I was gonna pay off everybody’s balance. Didn’t care what it cost.
GB: The day after, I walked into the cafeteria and a whole bunch of people were looking at me. And I’m like looking around make sure nothing was, like, my hair wasn’t messed up or anything. But then all my friends were like, ”Dude, your mentor paid off a whole bunch of student’s lunches. That’s awesome!”
DG: I saw it first hand. My friend got to keep his lunch. And I could not put my happiness into words. It felt like a great weight was lifted off all the students’ shoulders. And, I was really, really proud of you.
KT: That’s cool. Thanks! I feel the same way about you guys. It’s a pleasure and an honor to be there with you every week. You guys teach me how to be a better person. So, I get a lot out of it too.