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Philando Fundraising Campaign Clears All St. Paul School Lunch Debt

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- A fundraising campaign to honor the memory of Philando Castile raised enough money to help pay off every St. Paul Schools students' lunch debt for at least a year.

Philando, 32, was fatally shot by a St. Anthony police officer while sitting behind the wheel during a traffic stop in July of 2016.

The officer was charged with a crime but was later acquitted by a jury.

Valerie Castile Hugs Student At JJ Hill Montesorri
Valerie Castile hugs a student at J.J. Hill Montessori (credit: CBS)

Valerie Castile, Philando's mother, helped present a check to J.J. Hill Montessori on Friday afternoon, where he worked as a nutrition supervisor.

Inver Hills Community College psychology professor Pam Fergus and her class helped raise more than $70,000 in Castile's honor through the online fundraiser called "Philando Feeds the Children."

Most children still remember the man they affectionately called "Mr. Phil."

"We just had this little idea that we were going to help do Mr. Phil's job and make sure you guys have good lunch to eat every day," Fergus said to a crowded lunchroom of kids.

Philando Castile
Philando Castile at J.J. Hill Montessori Magnet School (credit: CBS)

St. Paul School District officials said Castile would often pay out of his own pocket for children's lunches if they couldn't afford it.

The district said school lunch for the year can cost $400 for students' families.

"We as a community have to work together in order for things to work," Valerie said. "This would've meant everything to him."

Valerie said she hopes this campaign can inspire similar fundraising efforts in communities across the country.

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