Winnetonka High staffers plan stand-up comedy fundraiser for unpaid student lunches

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A big smile can make a big difference.

Students and staffers at one metro high school are smiling from ear-to-ear because of that and a benefit comedy show that will raise money to pay some outstanding bills. It's a fundraiser that's no joking matter.

It's been said there`s a challenge within every comedy.

At Winnetonka High School, two staff members, both of whom work on the side as stand-up comedians, plan to use their wisdom and wisecracks to raise some cash. English teacher Andrea Caspari and lunchroom employee Sean Brennan are planning the Laughs for Lunches Comedy Show, which will happen at the school on April 18.

Nine comics in all will perform at the upcoming benefit show, and the money raised will go toward this year's unpaid student lunchroom tabs, which currently totals close to $1,000.

Caspari and Brennan still work local and regional comedy clubs during their off-hours. YouTube has several video clips of both comics making audiences laugh.

When they're not leading the school's improv and stand-up comedy organizations for students, they're among the teachers, who nationwide, witness students who are going hungry. North Kansas City School District leaders told FOX4 that 47% of students at Winnetonka High qualify for free or reduced lunches.

"I absolutely love our kids so much," Caspari told FOX4 . "This economy is rough. Some parents, sometimes, they just have too much dignity, and they don't want to fill it out. Or the child doesn't bring home the form."

Brennan, a self-titled "lunch lady," graduated from Winnetonka High and said he identifies with many students attending the school in 2019.

"We try not to focus on the causality of it and more to find a way with our skill set to find a way to help out where we can, and to help out where we can, and to make sure everyone is able to get the same opportunities as everyone else," he said.

Students in the school said they're grateful for the laughs and the love these adults provide.

"Some kids might not have the best of days and throw on top of that lunch debt," said Damon Carter, a Winnetonka High senior. "It's pretty amazing that we can come together as a community and just help each other. I just love the fact that we can do that kind of stuff."

Students will also deliver some of the laughs during next week's benefit show. Caspari said comedy is important, but giving students a voice, and an opportunity to help themselves, is crucial.

Tickets to next Thursday's fundraiser can be purchased the night of the show for $5 apiece. Caspari said any surplus money from the fundraiser will go into a special fund, where next year's unpaid lunches can be paid in advance.

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