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Furniture company pays off thousands of dollars of school lunch debt

Photo: Salt Lake City School District

SALT LAKE CITY — Many Salt Lake families will have a brighter Christmas, thanks to a local company that paid off outstanding lunch debts to the Salt Lake City School District.

Walker Edison Furniture cut a check for exactly $10,201.79 and gave it to the school district to pay off the debts for all of the schools in the district.

The Salt Lake City School District says many families are blessed by the gift from the local furniture company.

Brad Bonham, CEO of Walker Edison Furniture, says that charity is a core part of their foundation.

“This is what we do and this is who we are. We like to try to help our community, the community that’s made us successful,” Bonham says.

Bonham says their employees came up with a list of thirteen things to do this year, and easing the Christmastime burdens of some young families was one of them.

“This year, we asked, and one of our employees said, ‘Hey, I read a news article on KSL that talked about these kids whose parents couldn’t afford to pay off their school lunch balances.’ So there’s this debt that’s just hanging over these families. So we inquired and they gave us a list of schools that have these outstanding lunch balances for these kids. They said, ‘Which school would you like to sponsor?’ And we said, ‘All of them.’ That has been a blessing for us to be able to do these kinds of neat things,” Bonham says.

“Everywhere we turn we’ve seen an opportunity to hopefully serve and participate in these charitable initiatives,” Bonham says.

James Yapias with the Salt Lake Education Foundation says many families who don’t qualify for free or reduced lunch still have a hard time paying the bills and the debt accrued.

“Our goal is to make sure every student comes to school, and really is taken care of also. We want to make sure that students are eating healthy every day and they’re going to class,” Yapias explains.

“It’s exciting to see that a company that’s in Salt Lake City wanted to contribute to pay off any type of lunch debt collections or fees that we had,” Yapias says.

Yapias says the school district did not tell the company the names of the families but did tell them the amount owed and the company was glad to cover the eight schools that had outstanding balances.

Walker Edison Furniture is also donating to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, sponsoring Angel Tree, and singing at an assisted living center.