For Kenny Thompson, a Utah elementary school caught snatching lunch from dozens of students proved to be all the motivation he needed. The mentor and volunteer wanted to make sure the same thing didn’t happen at his school because students couldn’t pay. But, as it turned out, something similar was already going on:

“He found out that some students whose parents hadn’t paid were eating cold cheese or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch, instead of hot, hearty fare. And others avoided the lunch line altogether, preferring not to eat rather than face the embarrassment of not being able to afford the same lunch in front of their peers. Many of these students were already on reduced lunch, which costs just 40 cents a day.”

After inquiring at Valley Oaks Elementary School in Houston, Texas, he took his own money and paid the overdue fees for over 60 student—a total of $465. His simple act caught the attention of news outlets around the world, and all the attention has prompted Thompson and his friends to start an organization called Feed the Future Forward, dedicated to paying for lunches of students in America.

For the newly dubbed “lunch angel,” though, the best results are those he sees in the students he works with:

“Students and school administrators at Valley Oaks have openly expressed gratitude for Thompson’s efforts, he said. One of his mentees broke down and cried when he heard the news, sharing how he used to avoid the lunch line and claim he wasn’t hungry to avoid any questions.”

Of course, dozens of similar stories go unnoticed each day, ones the media doesn’t cover. It’s those expressions of love with skin on that show the world the power of the gospel, as a recent post on this blog showed:

“Individuals, communities and institutions must care enough to roll up their sleeves and get into the mess of insufficiency. Those who God calls, he equips, and who is more equipped than the Church? As Christians, we have been given this high call to “defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. Rescue the weak and needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82).”

On the other hand, service in and of itself is not what Jesus has called us to. Instead, we must always check our motivations:

“Too many well-meaning Christians have fallen victim to burnout, pride, moral lapses, ruined relationships, and disillusionment while working hard on service that God led them to undertake. You don’t have to be one of them. When you learn how to love God and serve well, your work in God’s kingdom will lead to healthy results rather than unhealthy ones.”

Do you know any heroes that the media hasn’t covered? Why not honor them in the comments?

John UpChurch is the senior editor of BibleStudyTools.com and Jesus.org. You’ll usually find him downing coffee at his standing desk (like a boss).