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Charity Honoring Philando Castile Pays Off Students' Lunch Debts in 56 Schools

Charity Honoring Philando Castile Pays Off Students' Lunch Debts in 56 Schools
(David Carson/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)

Philando Castile, the cafeteria supervisor who was shot and killed by a Minnesota police officer who stopped him for a traffic violation on July 6, 2016, is posthumously helping students afford their lunches.

A charity was set up in his name that would help every student from 56 schools in the Saint Paul Public School District pay off their lunch debt.

The In Memory of Philando Castile fundraising page explained that J.J. School was thousands of dollars in debt.

The J.J. Hill school is several thousand dollars short. Some kids get free lunch, but many kids come from families with incomes slightly above the cut off. They get behind in payments, and need our help.

Castile's death had a huge impact on the community, especially after the officer charged with manslaughter was acquitted of all charges on June 16, 2017.

But none were affected as much as the students at the J. J. Hill Montessori Magnet School where he worked as a nutrition supervisor.

Affectionately known as "Mr. Phil," he would often greet the students with high-fives and oftentimes reached into his pocket to cover the lunch expenses of those students who couldn't afford to eat that day. "One by one," was his M.O. to help the students.

"Philando was famous for that," said Professor Pam Fergus, who launched the "Philando Feeds the Children" crowdfunding campaign.

His mother told me that every day he would call her after leaving his job at J.J. Hill and talk about the kids. Another kid didn't have the money in his account, so Philando would take $3 out of his pocket and buy that kid's lunch for the day.

Eisen Ramgren told the Pioneer Press, "It's one thing to say he was a good guy, and it's another thing to know he was a good guy."

The fundraising page hopes to fulfill on their mission of providing the kids "with a lasting connection to Mr. Phil.
Please help Philando continue to feed his kids."

The initial campaign hoped to raise $5,000 to take care of the lunch debt at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School. Since September, that goal has been surpassed with the campaign raising over $106,000.

"That means that no parent of the 37,000 kids who eat meals at school need worry about how to pay that overdue debt," said one of the posts on the page. "Philando is STILL reaching into his pocket, and helping a kid out. One by one."

Heather Moenck, one of the students from Fergus's diversity and ethics class at St. Paul, Metro State University, said,

I really like being able to do something that would resonate and have a lasting impact on the kids [Castile] had an impact on. I think everyone can agree kids need to be fed and that this is important. It's one of those things that is really important, so we can move forward and heal together.

The tragedy lingers, but his legacy of helping students endures.

H/T - Twitter, HuffingtonPost, CNN, YouCaring,