Turquoise Lejeune Parker, a teacher in Durham, North Carolina, reached out to her community and ended up raising $100,000 to purchase groceries at Costco to provide food for 5,000 students in the Durham Public Schools for the winter break.
The bags, which were filled with bread, mac and cheese, beans, apple sauce and other food staples, are expected to be distributed to the students at the school.
With the help of attorney T. Greg Doucette, Parker began the food drive in 2015 when a parent confided to the elementary school employee that she needed assistance, WNCT reports.
“This all started with one family; one family sent me a message in 2015. This mom said we don’t have anything at all, I don’t have anything for my kids,” Parker told WNCT.
At the time, the 34-year-old librarian decided to enlist her husband, Donald Parker, to make calls to everyone in their network, asking them to buy or donate food for her class of 25 students.
“It’s a basic human right. We’re not talking about raising money to buy people a vacation; this is food, a very, very basic thing. We need to make sure we take care of our schools because when we take care of our schools, we’re taking care of our community,” she told CNN.
Turquoise continued her endeavors the following year and was increasingly successful in feeding more students.
“We were able to feed the whole grade level, then two grade levels, then the whole school, and then three schools, and it kept growing,” Turquoise told WNCT.
Now, she’s raised enough money to purchase food for students at 12 different schools, which are mainly filled with children of color who receive free or subsidized lunches.
“We owe this to everyone who is suffering from systemic oppression. Our folks are struggling to provide the very basic need, food and water, and a place to live. That’s ridiculous,” Parker said.
“It’s truly mind-blowing at how fast this grows,” Parker said. “I just want to make sure my babies are OK.”