Kansas City third-grader uses bakery profits to pay off student lunch debts

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Students and parents facing mounting lunch debts at University Academy can breathe a little easier thanks to a third grader with a sweet tooth and a heart of gold.

"I don't bake on Mondays because those are homework days," 9-year-old Ire Cherry explained

Cherry started baking at age 3 and is now the owner of Very Cherry Bakery.

"When she turned 8, she came to myself and my husband and asked could she have a bakery," her mother Christina Cherry said.

To make sure she was serious, Cherry's parents made her take a business class before becoming the youngest person ever to get a Kansas City food handler's license.

Now she's doing weddings and filling orders of more than 100 pieces.

But she isn't spending her earnings on toys.

"I said, 'Ire, no matter where you go in life, there's always someone in a worse situation than you, and your best gift in life is to always give," her mother said.

Ire found out as much as people love to eat her desserts, some of her fellow student's families at University Academy have trouble affording their school lunches. And when they don't pay their debts, there are consequences.

"As a kid I know I love fun things, and when you don't pay, you don't really get to go on field trips," Ire explained.

So she decided to take some of her bakery money and pay it off for them.

"When we first found out that Ire was going to make this donation, it was almost like shock and disbelief," University Academy Superintendent Tony Kline said.

"When Ire wrote $150 on that check, I was kind of blown away," her mother said.

University Academy shared the news on its Facebook page and has since learned it's already inspiring grownups to make similar donations across the country.

"To see a 9-year-old reach into their own pocket and then to also find out that she had made that money through her own hard work and her own business and to have the wherewithal to think I should  give back to kids in my school that are less fortunate than I am, it just melts your heart," Kline said.

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