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Ahwahnee man works to make sure local students get lunch

Jennifer Stanley, left, and James Nimmo, right, pose for a photo on Wednesday, Oct. 10 showcasing the money Nimmo raised for YHS students through his car wash over the weekend. The money will go to students with an outstanding lunch debt that prevents them from buying lunch.
Jennifer Stanley, left, and James Nimmo, right, pose for a photo on Wednesday, Oct. 10 showcasing the money Nimmo raised for YHS students through his car wash over the weekend. The money will go to students with an outstanding lunch debt that prevents them from buying lunch. wramirez@sierrastar.com

James Nimmo fed about 70 Yosemite High School students a recent Wednesday morning.

He did not know their names, their ages or what they would be eating. All he knew was that there was a need.

Many YHS students cannot eat lunch at school due to an outstanding lunch debt of $40, so Nimmo brought in $245 in cash he raised to help pay off some of those debts. Students without money for lunch on a given can put their lunch cost on a tab, but once that tab reaches $40, they can no longer add on any more costs.

The Ahwanee resident spent his weekend washing cars with his wife and two children--one of which is YHS student herself--to raise the money, promoting his services and the cause via Facebook.

“I know there’s a problem and I’m just trying to fix it, in some way, shape or form,” he said. “I don’t want to shame the school or anything, I’m just here to take care of the kids’ bill.”

Nimmo, 44, said that due to the tight-knit nature of the mountain community, he quickly got word of the issue when attending YHS football games. After a bit of brainstorming, he arrived at the car wash idea, which ended up taking him and his family as far as Yosemite Lakes Park and Madera Ranchos.

On Oct. 10, a smile of excitement and encouragement filled Nimmo’s face when Yosemite Unified School District nutrition services and accounting manager Jennifer Stanley let him know the money was enough to feed 70 students.

“It’s surprising. It’s like, wow, 70? It’s a lot,” he said.

But this first donation was just the beginning for Nimmo. The car washing will continue and the goal is to help all of the schools in the area. In November, the money raised will be going to Wasuma.

“In general, it’s just for the children. It’s something to do,” he said.

Nimmo is no stranger to giving back to the community. Last winter, he helped organized a toy drive. He also offers a designated driving service and volunteers for Madera County Sheriff’s Office search and rescue unit.

When asked what compels him to take up these causes, he didn’t think twice about his answer: “The Lord,” he answered as he patted one of the patches on his leather vest that read “Jesus is my road king” in bright orange script.

“Our church Sierra Pines sends out a lot of people throughout the world to do missions. That was kind of, like, the one drive of the thing,” Nimmo said. “I can’t jump on a plane and go to Thailand or the Philippines and help somebody there, I have a family to take care of. But what I can do is take care of my neighborhood.”

He said this cause, in particular, felt important because he and his family dealt with financial struggles before moving up to Ahwahnee six years ago.

Stanley said she was grateful for Nimmo’s donation and welcomed his idea to continue helping out the children and youth in the school district.

“We appreciate all the contributions that the community makes. It really helps children and families that are struggling that may not qualify for free and reduced lunches to pay for their lunches,” she said.

Stanley added that since the school has added a greater variety of food in February, more students have been wanting to eat at school, which makes these donations all the more beneficial for the students in need.

Stanley did not disclose the size of the lunch debt or how many students were being affected in order to protect the privacy of the families.

Nimmo will not travel around for his next car wash fundraiser. On Saturday, Oct. 12 he will be stationed with his wife and two children in front of London Properties, 40142 CA-41, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. There is no fixed price for the wash, customers can receive a wash for any amount of donation.

He is also offering a wash and semi-detail every other day for $30.

The following week, he plans to hold the car wash in Coarsegold, although the location for that one is still tentative.

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