Teacher raised over $ 100,000 to buy enough food to keep thousands of children from going hungry during winter break

The 34-year-old library teacher at Lakewood Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina is doing all she can to prove it, and her recent fundraiser, which raised $ 106,000 to feed her students in need, is her most recent gesture of love.

Winter holidays can mean weeks of food insecurity for children and their families, Durham Public Schools spokesperson Crystal Roberts told CNN.

“It’s a basic human right. We’re not talking about fundraising to buy vacations for people; it’s food, a very, very basic thing,” Parker said. “We have to make sure we take care of our schools because when we take care of our schools, we take care of our community.”

Her business, which she named Mrs. Parker’s Professors Foodraiser, used the money she raised to purchase, package and distribute more than 5,200 bags of food to students at 12 schools in the Durham Public School District.

In the dozen schools supported by the project, 98% of students rely on low cost or free lunches provided by their school. For many children, it is their main source of food. But once the holidays come, schools close and their cafeterias too.

“Ms. Parker has always had an army of donors and volunteers ready to advocate for the needs of her students,” Lakewood Elementary School principal James Hopkins told CNN in a statement. “What is so impressive is that these efforts provided the students of Durham with the same fortune; in this case, to receive a substantial portion of food during the extended vacation.”

“I need them to know that I love them”

Parker had known she wanted to be a teacher since she was 4, sitting on the floor of her mother’s bedroom, setting up her teddy bears and pretending they were her students.

“I’ve wanted to be a teacher my whole life,” said Parker, who has been a teacher for 11 years. “This is what I love, this is all I ever wanted to do, I am living my dream.”

Today, the mother-of-one teaches over 400 students from Kindergarten to Grade 5, and her love for them extends beyond the classroom.

“I call my students Ms. Parker’s professors. If this rings a bell, it’s that I believe in them and love them so much,” Parker said. “‘I need them to know that I love them, to remind them that love is a word of action. I will tell them all day, but I will also show them all day.”

Her promise to feed all of her students began in 2015, when one of her student’s parents told her that they would not have enough food for the children during the holidays.

“She said to me, ‘I’m fine, I can go without eating, but I can’t let my children go without eating for two weeks. “It’s really hard to know that stuff like this is going on and not do everything I can,” Parker said in tears. “My husband and I started to think, if a family asks this question, then there must be more.”

On December 14, 2015, Parker texted everyone she knew, asking if anyone would be interested in donating money, so she could provide them with bags full of food for the duration. holidays.

Progress has been slow but steady. The first year, she raised $ 500. Last year it hit $ 55,000. But this year turned out to be a record, with over $ 106,000 donated by people across the country.

“It left me speechless. I cried a little bit every day,” Parker said. “It took off in a way we could never have expected.”

A lifelong effort

Within two weeks, Ms. Parker’s Foodraisers teachers raised the money to buy enough food to fill large brown grocery bags for thousands of children in the district.

Each bag contained child-friendly foods such as cereals, canned goods, granola bars and macaroni and cheese that can be cooked regardless of the family’s living situation.

“It’s a community effort. It’s not $ 106,000 out of my pocket, it’s the result of how we operate as a collective,” Parker said. “It is thanks to all the people who gave of their time, their money, their talents to make sure that our children are taken care of.”

With the help of more than 60 volunteers who accompanied Parker to a local Costco, the group purchased the food and spent days wrapping the bags before delivering them to each school by December 11.

Volunteers pack the bags of food.

“Ms. Parker is a school district’s dream teacher, a perfect blend of competence and compassion who is committed to serving young people in a holistic way,” Durham Public Schools said in a statement.

“Its Foodraiser is tackling food insecurity head-on, especially at a time of year when commercialism puts need at the forefront,” the statement continued. “Thanks to his efforts, our food insecure students have access to food when schools are closed for the holidays. She is their lifeline.

The success of the fundraiser inspired Parker to make it a lifelong project, she said, with the goal of feeding as many children as possible during winter and spring break.

About Franklin Bailey

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