Teacher Racks Up $100,000 Bill To Make Sure Students Don't Go Hungry Over Holidays

Dec 21, 2021 by apost team

The holidays are a time of giving and no one knows this better than Turquoise LeJeune Parker, a teacher at Lakewood Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina. Since 2015, around the holidays, Parker has worked to make a "foodraiser" to help out students who may struggle with food insecurity at home.

With school out for two weeks over the holidays, students who rely on school cafeteria breakfasts and lunches may end up going hungry. So in a bid to ensure that all students can eat over the break, Parker began the fundraiser to give back to the community. She started the project back in 2015. Parker told Today:

“I had a family come to me and say, ‘'We don’t know how we’re going to eat. Can you please help us?'”

She added, "But we realized if one family was asking, there were probably a lot more who could benefit from the same thing."

That set the wheels in motion and in 2018, they raised over $7,000 from the community, which helped people to realize there was a need for this kind of fundraising. Parker told ABC 11:

"In 2018 when we did $7,000 for the first time, we fed the whole school. That really hit a lot of people differently because they were able to see that there is a need."

Now, 2021 has proven to be the biggest fundraising year yet, after Parker and the community managed to raise over $106,000. She said:

"Amazing, speechless. It leaves me speechless. I've cried a little bit today. I cry a little bit every day."  

Be sure to scroll down this article to see the full video :-)

Clearly tears of joy, Parker and the ever-growing list of donors and community partners she's worked with donated the incredible amount to help out students and their families in need. She and her small team of volunteers took the money to the Costco on North Pointe Drive and bought non-perishable groceries for more than 5,100 students. The students are from a dozen different Durham Public School area schools and their families could go hungry over the holidays. She told ABC 11:

"Two weeks is a long time to be out of school without lunch or breakfast at school. Three meals. Children eat a lot. Food is expensive."

Food insecurity is a major issue in Durham and low-income people of color are the worst hit. ABC's Our America Equity Report has tracked the situation and they revealed that nearly 75% of Black and Latino people in Durham don't have access to a nearby supermarket that's within walking distance. That's 25% more than Durham residents who are white.

Of the children from the 12 schools who will receive groceries from the fundraiser, 98% of them receive free or reduced lunch at school, while for many, their only meal comes from the school. Parker said she believed it's "about 5,106 children" who'll receive groceries. 

Last week, Parker and volunteers bagged the groceries and sent them home two grade levels at a time. Since this year's fundraiser was so successful, there was even extra food to be able to send to support staff such as bus drivers and cafeteria workers, who could use the extra help this holiday season. 


What do you think about Turquoise DeJeune Parker's incredible fundraising effort? Have you ever witnessed a fundraiser of this kind? Let us know, then pass this on to others to spread positivity in time for the holidays. 

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