Julianna Mendelsohn deserves an extra apple on her desk when school opens on Monday, given that she’s made sure kids will have apples and more to eat. The Mangum Elementary School fifth-grade teacher saw a need in Ferguson, Missouri, and took steps to address it in spectacular fashion.
The opening of schools was delayed in Ferguson because of the protests and unrest following a police officer’s fatal shooting of teenager Michael Brown.
Mendelsohn worried what the delay would mean for children on free and reduced-price lunch. The poverty rate in Ferguson is nearly double that of the rest of the state, so many students likely rely heavily on school meals. Mendelsohn, this week’s Grit Award winner, surpassed her goal of raising $80,000 to help provide food. By Friday afternoon, donations had reached $153,902. Mendelsohn’s actions will have a long-lasting impact.
As the St. Louis Area Foodbank officials put it on the organization’s website: “The ouppouring of support from across the country has been overwhelming. … children in need will continue to struggle with hunger long after the news cameras leave.”
Thanks to a Durham teacher, though, more children will be fed, and people are educated about and aware of the problem. We hope that awareness will lead to greater action in other communities, as well.