Indianapolis man ‘pays it forward’ to help school kids in need

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WTHR/CNN) – An Indianapolis man is on a mission. He’s teaching an entire school a lesson you can’t learn in the classroom.

He’s teaching the joy of paying it forward.

It started simply at a Starbucks.

“Can I have a venti hot chocolate?”

“Need a receipt? Yes, and I’m gonna go ahead and pay for the person behind me.”

A mission to secretly make someone’s day a little bit better.

“Another pay it forward done”

But this daily routine for Ryan Cox was about to get a lot bigger.

In a place where a four-dollar coffee isn’t on the menu, and definitely not in the budget.

Inspired by a friend, Cox went to Lakeside Elementary with a plan… to pay off overdue lunch accounts for families who’d fallen on hard times.

He made his pitch to lunchroom supervisor Latiousha Smith.
“He was like, you know, I just want to come and pay someone’s balance and I was like ok, so what’s your student’s name?” Smith said.

“I said, ‘well I have a few nephews who go here, but their accounts aren’t delinquent. I just want to pay random accounts’,” Cox remembers responding.

“I said, ‘are you sure? I mean like, do you really, I mean like, what’?” Smith recalled.

“In the process of all that, I said, ‘what’s the total amount due? Because I’m gonna come back next week and i’m gonna pay the full balance’,” Cox said.

“The whole school? The whole school? 1,200 dollars. That’s simply amazing. It’s a big deal. It means a lot to the children and they have no idea they’re being blessed like this,” Smith said.

Cox reached out on social media and people, lots of them, started to give.

Nearly 1,000-dollars in five days..

All to make sure kids wouldn’t have to worry about their lunch money.

“It’s really big when you talk about what small things can do for people. They really add up,” Jeff Hoog, Lakeside Elementary School principal said.

And it may have meant the most to Latiousha Smith, who cares for these kids every day.

Turns out paying it forward is about more than helping your target.

“It’s just a bunch of good people doing a little bit more good,” Cox said.

It’s a lesson that spreads.

“Thank you so much Ryan. You did good! He gave back!” Smith said.

Cox says sometimes just putting some good into the world goes a long way.

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