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The Free Lunch Exists: Ohio Church Pays Off Lunch Debt for Students at 11 Districts

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By Mark Evans

Maybe you have heard: "There's no free lunch." But that saying is not true in the Miami Valley of Ohio. The Salem Church of God in Clayton, Ohio which northwest of Dayton, initially wanted to help two schools in their area. They planned a "generous giving" campaign for the people of their congregation and were surprised when the church family gave "above and beyond." The church didn't just end up helping two schools, they made a difference in 11 school districts!

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The Ohio church is led by Pastor Steve Southards. It has 1,200 members. Pastor Southards recently shared with his congregation: "Because of your generosity, and because of the abundance and grace of our God, not only did we hit that goal, but exceeded it, and to date, over $40,000 have come in." The pastor took great joy in calling area schools and asking what the lunch debt was. If the school had any, the pastor told them it was now canceled.

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The Next Steps Pastor at Salem Church of God, Bob Hawkers, told Fox News: "We want to find the bad news in people's lives and declare good news. The bad news was your kid doesn't eat today, and the good news is, Jesus says 'It's more blessed to give than to receive,' and because of that, we're canceling your lunch debt today." The "generous giving" campaign started with a goal to raise about $14,000, but they were concerned that it was an overreach. They wanted to help two schools in Brookville and Northmont.

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But after the church family went "above and beyond," the reach was multiplied. In total, the church was able to pay off lunch debts for the school districts of Arcanum, Brookville, Eaton, Franklin Monroe, Kettering, Milton-Union, New Lebanon, Northmont, Tri-County North, Troy and Vandalia Butler. And now, the church is able to even set up an "angel fund" at Northmont with the remaining money so that they can prevent student lunch debt in the future. This is a campaign that just seems to keep on giving.

Kids eating lunch
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The very generous church family is inviting school officials and anyone affected by the student lunch debt to come to their church on Sunday for a special celebration service. "God is the one who moved in our hearts for this deal," the pastor declared. He also expressed sadness that local reports edited out his credit to the divine. "God is the one who opened doors that no man could ever kick down or kick open ... and it's amazing what can happen when we're sensitive to the spirit of God."

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