Serving others with a smile

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DEVIN HEILMAN/Press Amiah Van Hill, 6, is incredibly excited to give this check to Coeur d’Alene School District Nutrition Services on Thursday after raising funds to wipe out school lunch debt through her lemonade stand and GoFundMe page. Amiah and her Lemonade 4 Lunch stand will be at the Mountain West in Hayden from 4 to 6 p.m. today as she continues her mission to help kids and families in need.

COEUR d’ALENE — The giant check Amiah Van Hill carried almost matched the size of the smile she wore as she walked into the Coeur d'Alene School District Nutrition Services building.

"I'm feeling pretty excited," she said with a slight shiver brought on by Thursday's afternoon chill. "It feels pretty good to know that I'm helping other kids."

Her family accompanied her as she presented the check to nutrition services director Ed Ducar.

Thanks to this big-hearted, entrepreneurial 6-year-old, the school district's lunch debts are $13,680 richer. After all of the funds she has raised come in, the debt will be wiped out.

"The funds will help pay for the student meal accounts for students whose families are struggling to make ends meet," Ducar said. "She's just an amazing person and she really wants to ensure that all kids in the Coeur d'Alene School District have meals at no charge."

The Hayden Meadows Elementary second-grader opened her Lemonade 4 Lunch stand during the summer to raise funds to help with the more than $23,000 school lunch debt. She was inspired by the story of Jeff Lew, who opened a GoFundMe campaign to pay off Seattle's lunch debts.

Amiah launched her own GoFundMe, Lemonade 4 Lunch, to which donors have contributed thousands of dollars. Her story has reached people around the world who continue to add to the fund almost daily.

"My husband and I are so excited that she wanted to start this," said Amiah's mom, Rachel. "She developed a passion very quickly after reading the story about Jeffrey Lew and all the amazing things he did for the Seattle School District."

As of Thursday, even after donations and some families paying down their debt, student lunch charges remained at roughly $15,300. Rachel said with everything still coming in, Amiah will be over the $23,000 mark by Monday.

"To be able to see her be so inspired and so passionate about such a good cause, obviously we're very proud of her as parents and we're proud that she just wants to keep going to help more families in need," Rachel said. "Hopefully she can accomplish her next goal."

And that new goal is — “To do the whole state of Idaho," Amiah said, still wearing that big smile.

Amiah and her lemonade stand will be at Mountain West Bank at 305 W. Prairie Ave. in Hayden from 4 to 6 p.m. today.

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