Acts of Kindness
Teacher raises more than $100K then spends it all at Costco to make sure students don’t go hungry
Turquoise LeJeune Parker isn’t your average teacher.
Colby Maxwell
01.13.22

There’s something about the season of giving that everyone can feel. For some, Christmas means fun holiday drinks and happy feelings, but for others, it means it’s time to start organizing and getting people the help they need – for Turquoise LeJeune Parker, that time is now.

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Parker is a teacher at Lakewood Elementary School in Durham, North Carolina, and does a massive “foodraiser” each year for Christmas.

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There isn’t anything wrong with spending money on yourself during Christmas, but for Parker, it needed to be more than that. The foodraiser that she puts on each year has been consistently growing and now, years later, it’s massive.

“Amazing, speechless. It leaves me speechless,” said Parker. “I’ve cried a little bit today. I cry a little bit every day.”

The entire foodraiser started with a desire to help students and families during the weeks where school wasn’t in session.

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“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,” Parker said.

While most of us don’t think of school cafeteria food as “delicious”, it represents a consistent food source to many kids who don’t receive it at home. Free school lunch allows parents to save money for other essentials and kids to have regular meals. During the times of the year where school isn’t in, getting those meals can be tough. Especially if a child’s parents are at work.

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Parker’s solution is to find yearly donors and slowly grow the program.

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

Her passion for students is clear. Her first year, back in 2017, was a breakthrough for her school. Raising $7,000, she was able to feed the entire school! This year, however, she’s broken that record many times over. Currently, her food donations equal a whopping $106,000!

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This year’s donations totaled $106,000!

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This massive about of food will be able to feed thousands and thousands of people this holiday season – especially those who need it the most. In Durham, where Parker is located, low-income people of color are affected the most during these seasons. Her efforts are filling bellies and helping people get on their feet in the best way possible.

Since there were so many donations this year, the school was able to expand their donations to more than just students, too!

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“Of the 12 schools where students are getting bag loads of holiday groceries, 98% of them receive free or reduced lunch at school. For many, schools provide their only meals.” – ABC

Volunteers have sent bags of food home with school staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, and families who needed it. Overall, there are 12 schools receiving help from Parker’s foodraiser and thousands of families who are having a holiday season happier and healthier than before!

Check out the video below!

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By Colby Maxwell
hi@sbly.com
Colby Maxwell is a contributor at SBLY Media.
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