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Teacher raises funds to feed her 22 hungry kindergartners, gives grocery bags they can take home

When she asked kids to write down their dreams, one of them wrote that he wanted a fridge full of food, and that broke the teacher's heart.

Teacher raises funds to feed her 22 hungry kindergartners, gives grocery bags they can take home
School children having lunch together outside the building - stock photo/Getty Images

Teachers hold the key to the future of the world and some of them have come to the fore during the pandemic, helping students as much as they can. Kindergarten teacher Laurie Gurdal has been helping feed 22 children from her class due to the financial crisis that has gripped families. Laurie Gurdal knew the pandemic-induced financial crisis was severely affecting her students' families but if there was one moment that really hit home, it was when she asked students to write down their dreams. It was a yearly ritual for Laurie Gurdal, and some of the answers were the usual ones. Some wanted to be superheroes, some wanted to be doctors, some princesses but one child said they dreamed of having a refrigerator full of food. "That broke my heart," said Gurdal, reported People. "He didn't have any food to go home to." 

Close up of a group of elementary school kids having lunch in school/Getty Images

 

The 45-year-old has 22 students at PS 245, an arts and science magnet school in Brooklyn, New York. Most of her students are from low-income families and she knew they would be struggling to make ends meet. During the school year, all students received free breakfasts and lunches. Whenever Gurdal had extras, she saved them for kids who were hungry to take home. "I feel really bad for them. It is so sad," said Gurdal. She's been teaching for 21 years but has never seen kids come hungry to school but the pandemic had wreaked havoc on these families and parents were struggling to put food on the table. 



 

 

"It's really upsetting," said Gurdal. "I know nutrition is a big part of thinking and being able to come to school, and not worry about stuff like that." Gurdal wanted to do something about it and started buying snacks for the students out of her own pocket. "Once I gave them the food, it felt like they had a reason to come to school, and they were more excited to be there," said Gurdal. "It really perked them up." Gurdal knew she couldn't go on buying snacks for them but it was vital for them. She is a single mother to two girls aged 14 and 21, and had spent more than $500 to help support her students. "It was getting expensive," said Gurdal.

Teacher Going over Exam Instructions - stock photo/Getty Images

 

Gurdal decided she wanted to continue helping her students and doing more for them. She launched a fundraiser in March on DonorsChoose, a non-profit that allows people to donate directly to public school classroom projects. The fundraiser would be to fund her food pantry. The kind soul that she is, it's not the first time, she has launched fundraisers to help kids. Gurdal has sourced crayons, Apple TV, iPads, and more for her students through DonorsChoose. Within a month, Gurdal had raised $1,108 to fund her food pantry, from just two donors. Gurdal was overwhelmed by the response. "I was really surprised," said Gurdal of the speed at which the goal was achieved. "There are so many generous people out there."

It enabled her to give all 22 students a full bag of groceries, which included pasta, Pop-Tarts, and more. Gurdal has already done this three times and hopes to continue doing it. "The children are happier," said Gurdal, adding they were happier about coming to school," she said. Gurdal also launched a second fundraiser for snacks, and was fully funded with 2 months, raising $253. Gurdal is now joining hands with other staff and hoping to expand the food pantry, helping them give students bag of groceries one Friday a month. "I want to make sure my students are fed and have the energy to come to school and want to learn." Teachers are one of the most underpaid positions and yet one of the most important jobs out there and this pandemic has reminded us of that more than ever.   

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