He Ate Lunch By Himself At School For 4 Years Until These Students Reached Out

"It makes me feel happy that I can eat with people."

There are many people on social media writing about going back to school, but mom Kay Kirby makes it clear the post she shared on Facebook on August 20 is not "your typical 'First Day of School' message. Instead, it is a shoutout to the kind members of the student council at Boiling Springs High School in Boiling Springs, SC, who changed her son Andrew's school experience for the better. 

The mom explains that Andrew has eaten lunch by himself at school for four years. He was adopted by Kay and her husband when they were fostering him as a baby. He was born with a drug addiction and has neurofibromatosis, "a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form on nerve tissue."  The condition is usually diagnosed in childhood or early adulthood and the tumors can develop anywhere in the nervous system, including the spinal cord and brain.

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The mom-of-four told Good Morning America that in previous years she would ask if Andrew had people to eat with at lunch. "When he'd say, 'No,' I would have to turn my head a lot of time [and try] not to cry," Kirby said. "He would say, 'Mom, it's OK. I get on my phone so I don't notice.'"

She often texts him at lunch and discovers that he's eating alone. She told Fox News that occasionally school administration would eat with the 16-year-old.

On his first day of school as a junior, Kirby texted Andrew at lunch, but she didn't get a response.

When she picked him up after school, he got in the car and said, "Mom, I didn't eat alone! Some student council members asked me and three others eating alone to come sit with them."

He added that the group was planning to eat together the next day, too.

Kirby thanked the members of the student council on Facebook. "These students may not have thought this was a big deal, but it was an answer to prayer and a great encouragement for Andrew," she wrote. "THANK YOU to those students, you made a difference today!"

Damian Howarth, one of the students who invited Andrew to join them, told FOX Carolina 21 that something should have been done earlier. "We should have stepped up before and more people should have to."

Kirby reports that her son is feeling more confident and looks forward to going to school. She says he is also developing connections with the group. They have continued to eat together, are texting in group chats and recently went out to the movies together. 

Andrew told FOX Carolina 21, "It makes me feel happy that I can eat with people."

Kirby wrote in a follow-up Facebook post from August 31 that she hopes Andrew's story will have an impact around all schools. "Our prayer is that it opens the eyes to other schools for their teen leadership to be proactive in reaching out to kids/teens who sit alone at lunch!"

Howarth echoed, "Don't be afraid to meet someone new. Just go out and do it." 

(H/T: HuffPost)

Cover Image via  Thiranun Kunatum / Shutterstock

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