DEAR ABBY: Thank you for printing the letter from the woman who paid for her neighbor’s children’s school lunch bill. “Lending a Hand in the Midwest” (Jan. 10) was angry to discover they didn’t qualify for free lunches because “their parents were just a couple of dollars over the limit.” To top it off, the children’s father is doing his second tour in Afghanistan.

Because you encouraged your readers to contact local schools to give a few dollars to a child in need of a meal, it inspired me to speak to the principal in our district. Not only did the principal like my fundraising idea, he has allowed me time on campus to promote the fundraiser.

Twenty-seven students will be joining me after school in making lollipops to sell at an upcoming event. Local businesses and individuals have donated most of the supplies necessary to make this a successful drive to help the children in need. Our goal is to raise $1,000 for this cause.

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to “Lending” for sharing a great idea. — HAPPILY PAYING IT FORWARD IN HAWAII

DEAR HAPPILY: Thank you for spreading the message. “Lending’s” generous act of kindness elicited many interesting and thought-provoking responses. Read on:

DEAR ABBY: I am a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion and the American Legion Riders Association. One of the main functions of our organizations is to help our veterans and their families in any way we can. You would be amazed at the monies and help expended to our veterans, soldiers and their families that doesn’t make the news because being “needy” is perceived as some kind of fault.

To respond to a need, we must KNOW about it. Abby, please tell your readers if there is a problem, contact your local VFW, American Legion, AmVets, etc. and we will respond. — FRANK IN BURLINGTON, WIS.

DEAR ABBY: I am currently serving in the military and have never thought to donate to school lunches. I’m happy knowing people are watching out for the troops’ kids. As soon as I return home from Iraq, I will make the call to see where I can help. — AIRMAN WHO HAS BEEN THERE

DEAR ABBY: A lot of families are in the same situation. We have three kids and are $8 over the “allowed financial amount.” What’s not taken into consideration is the $100 my husband pays for Internet each month he’s serving in Afghanistan so our 8-year-old son with Asperger’s can “see” his daddy. This lessens the anxiety, compounded by his dad’s deployment, that is associated with his autism. God bless “Lending a Hand” for her gift to that family. — ABBIE IN RINEYVILLE, KY.

DEAR ABBY: I work in a public school. The administrators and the school nurse have daily contact with “kids in need” who could benefit enormously from small donations. I encourage people to contact their local schools and inquire about donating new clothes and/or toiletries to a child in need. The child’s identity will not be revealed, but sizes and current clothing trends can be provided, and the donor will have the satisfaction of knowing the donation is helping a child “fit in” and will make a huge difference in that child’s self-esteem. — MARCIA IN WEST VIRGINIA

DEAR ABBY: My son’s homework was to find three living heroes in today’s world. I showed him the letter from “Lending a Hand” and told him the writer is a perfect example of a hero. Giving of oneself is a lesson I’m trying to teach my son so lending a helping hand will be second nature to him. — MELISSA IN SAN JOSE, CALIF.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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