5-year-old shares heartbreaking motivation behind hot cocoa stand: 'I started crying'

A 5-year-old girl is being praised for her incredible act of kindness after revealing the difficult motivation behind her hot chocolate stand.

Katelynn Hardee, a kindergartener at Breeze Hill Elementary School in Vista, Calif., raised $78 from her makeshift business, where she sold cookies, hot cider and hot cocoa one Sunday earlier this month.

The proceeds from the treats — each of which were sold for $2 — all went to one, charitable cause: Katelynn wanted to pay off the lunch debt at her school, where the balance totals $616.85, Good Morning America reported.

According to Katelynn's mother, Karina Hardee, Breeze Hill has a policy that prevents students from getting full access to cafeteria food if they owe money.

"Katelynn's cutest thing she said was she didn't want her friends to have 'rumbling tummies,'" Hardee told Good Morning America. "She wished her friends could have lunch and snack no matter what."

The motivation behind Katelynn's original cocoa stand inspired her parents and even led Hardee to set up a fundraising campaign with proceeds going toward the lunch debts at other schools, as well as soon-to-be-defended support programs.

"[We're] very proud. Both my husband and I are just amazed," Hardee told Good Morning America.

The campaign, hosted on Fundly, has raised nearly $1,000 as of Wednesday afternoon. And that goal will likely get another boost soon, as Katelynn plans to run another one of her hot chocolate stands this Saturday. Breeze Hill Elementary even helped promote the 5-year-old's efforts through its Facebook page.

Hardee said her daughter got the idea during an after school program after hearing a parent express concerns about paying off their debt. Some of the school's employees were shocked by Katelynn's ability to spring into action.

"I started crying," Teresa Sharp, Breeze Hill's cafeteria manager told KGTV-TV. "I couldn't believe that a 5-year-old could think of doing something like that."

With Katelynn's second cocoa stand on its way, and Hardee's fundraiser gaining support, the mom said she believes her daughter has left a mark on their entire community.

"Her one kind act has rippled and affected the community," Hardee told Good Morning America. "It's starting conversations [around] food for kids."