SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) -- A business owner is taking the burden off hundreds of families in Sherman, Texas, paying for every unpaid cafeteria balance in the school district.
According to Sherman ISD policy, students who have negative meal balances can't walk the stage at graduation or participate in end-of-year activities like field trips and field day.
A few weeks ago, that was about 850 students.
"They may get behind for whatever reason, and of course we want our kids to participate and be involved in the school," Sherman High School Principal Chris Mogan said.
"It does pile up very quickly, in having friends, it's very daunting to think about stuff like that," Sherman High School student Marlee Russell said.
"Difficult times or maybe different circumstances come up, we got to make sure they get fed and fed well," SISD Director of School Nutrition Services John Spradley said.
Jason Schilli owns Covenant Roofing in Sherman.
When he heard about the number of unpaid meal balances and the way it will affect the students, he knew he wanted to help.
"I was really looking for a way that we could have an impact on the community and have a direct influence on so many students," Schilli said.
So Schilli donated $8,500 to SISD, the exact amount the school needed to cover all of those meals.
He was recognized for his gift at Monday's school board meeting. The students say this donation means several of their friends will now be able to walk the stage.
"Having the benefit of those fees being paid off I think is a wonderful way to give back to us," Russell said.
"This is something that will enact meaningful change, not 10 or 15 years down the road, but immediately, improving the lives of people and taking their fears away from this," Sherman High School student Colin McGinn said.
It's not only thousands less the school will have to cover, but it's also a fun field trip or a memory at graduation that some students would not have had otherwise.
"Take that stress or whatever they have to go through off their shoulders, and allow the kids to get the maximum benefit out of being in school," Schilli said.
"We're coming up on the end of the school year, let them have fun and be able to do all the things that they should be able to do."