June 18 09:15 AM

Staff pays off lunch debt

Imlay City Middle School team pools funds to help families

Imlay City Middle School staff, shown here in their Christmas attire, generously paid off more than $760 in overdue lunch accounts so that their students can return to classes and the cafeteria without any debt.

December 26, 2018
IMLAY CITY — Christmas came early for some 45 Imlay City Middle School students and their families when teachers and staff pooled donations to payoff outstanding lunch debts on the last day of 2018 classes.

Principal Pat Brown said a total of $769 was given to the school's lunch program on Wednesday, Dec. 19 just before the district's two week holiday break started. Brown said the donation helps approximately 10 percent of the student body who were behind in cafeteria payments.

"Getting bills for delinquent lunch accounts is not the best thing for our students' families this time of year," said teacher Kristyn Kurka.

"It's nice that we'll be able to say 'your balance is zero' when they come back to school."

Kurka said Middle School staff has a tradition of giving back to the community but this was the first time they focused on student lunch debts.

"A couple of staff members heard in the news about someone paying off lunch accounts in Marlette. For Christmas every year we 'adopt' a couple of families and decided that this year we could do one small family and work on the lunch accounts," Kurka said.

Since late November, staff have been pooling the donations received from "Jeans Days" toward their $700 goal. Kurka said that fellow teacher Barb Gates sent out email reminders to keep staff apprised of the running tally.

Staff members pay $5 for the chance to wear jeans on appointed days throughout the school year and that money has gone to a variety of causes over the years.

"Our staff is so generous. Anytime anyone is the community is struggling or anytime a staff member has problems, they step up," Kurka said.

In addition to the

lunch payoff, Middle School staff also worked through Lapeer County's Holiday Depot program

to provide Christmas

presents and gift cards

for an Imlay City family and their two children—

a 10 year-old and eight month-old.

"We felt like we were able to have a big impact on our students by doing something like this," Kurka said.

"I love working here because our staff has such big hearts."

Earlier this month an anonymous donor and friends gave more than $5,000 to Almont Community Schools to pay off all existing lunch debts at all three of the district's schools.

Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she and her family reside in the Capac area where she enjoys gardening and reading.
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