North Carolina Teacher Raises More Than $100K To Feed Hungry Students Over Winter Break

Turquoise LeJeune Parker of Durham was concerned about food insecurity during school holidays.

Turquoise LeJeune Parker deserves serious consideration for Teacher of the Year in North Carolina.

The 34-year-old library instructor at Lakewood Elementary School in Durham started a fundraiser, which eventually led to a collection of over $106,000 to feed her students in need. The money raised will go toward feeding thousands of area students who might not have had access to food during winter break.

Durham Public Schools spokeswoman Crystal Roberts told CNN that the time out of school leads to food insecurity for many since a school breakfast and/or lunch can be the only meals a child gets during the day.

"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," Parker said, according to CNN. "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."

Named Mrs. Parker’s Professors Foodraiser, the endeavor raised enough funds to purchase, pack and distribute more than 5,200 bags full of food to students at 12 schools throughout the Durham Public Schools district.

RELATED: Texas Teen Raises Money For Children In Need During The Holidays

98 percent of the students in the designated schools the project helps rely on low-cost or free lunches provided by their school.

"Mrs. Parker has always had an army of donors and volunteers at the ready, to champion the needs of her students," Lakewood Elementary School Principal James Hopkins told CNN. "What's so impressive is that these efforts have provided students across Durham the same fortune; in this case, of receiving a substantial portion of food over the extended holiday break."

Parker says she knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was four years old. She often would sit on her mother’s bedroom floor and set up teddy bears, pretending they were her students.

"I wanted to be a teacher all my life," said Parker. "This is what I love, it's all I ever wanted to do, I am living my dream."

Now, the mother of one teaches more than 400 students ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade.

"I call my students Mrs. Parker's professors. If that tells you anything, it's that I believe in them and I love them so very much," Parker said. "'I need them to know that I love them, to remind them that love is an action word. I will tell them all day, but I will also show them all day."

Parker’s mission to feed her students began in 2015, when one of her student's parents confided in her that there would not be enough food for their children during the holiday break.

"She told me, 'I'll be okay, I can go without eating, but I can't let my kids go without eating for two weeks.' It's really hard to know they have stuff like this going on and not to do everything I can," she said. "My husband and I started thinking, if one family is asking this question, then there must be more."

The first year Parker says she only raised $500, and last year she brought in $55,000. This year’s donation drive netted more than $106,000 – a record for her initiative.

"It has left me speechless. I've cried about it a little every day," Parker said. "It took off in a way we could have never expected."

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