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Teacher gives her 22 hungry kindergartners food so they ‘have the energy to come to school’



  • Laurie Gurdal learned that some of her kindergarten students had no food to go home to.
  • She started buying them snacks out of her own money.
  • Laurie even launched a fundraiser to give her students a food pantry and some grocery bags.

When kindergarten teacher Laurie Gurdal learned that one student’s dream was to have a refrigerator full of food, she got heartbroken.

“That broke my heart,” Laurie said. “He didn’t have any food to go home to.”

Laurie’s 22 students at PS 245, an arts and science magnet school in Brooklyn, New York are mostly from low-income families.

The 45-year-old teacher had been teaching for 21 years, and she hadn’t had children coming to school hungry. But recently, she knew there were hungry students who had not much food to go home to — and she thought the pandemic had caused many families to struggle.

“I feel really bad for them. It is so sad,” the doting teacher told PEOPLE.

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“It’s really upsetting. I know nutrition is a big part of thinking and being able to come to school, and not worry about stuff like that,” she added.

So, Laurie didn’t just watch her students crave food. Instead, she started buying snacks for them from 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,” she said. “It really perked them up.”

Buying snacks for students wasn’t an easy mission, especially for this single mom of two. So far, she had spent $500 for her students, and she knew that “it was getting expensive.”

But, instead of giving her food mission a break, Laurie decided to do more. She created a food pantry and launched a fundraiser on DonorsChoose, a non-profit allowing people to donate directly to public school classroom projects.


By April 5, she raised $1,108 for her food pantry, coming from only two donors!

Laurie was surprised but delighted at how quickly her goal was met. She was able to give all 22 students a full bag of groceries that they could take home on three different occasions.

“The children are happier,” she said. “When I gave them food, they were more happy to come to school. They weren’t so sad.”

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Laurie still continued providing snacks for her students, so she also launched a separate fundraiser for it. On June 20, she raised $253.

Laurie and her colleagues planned to expand the food pantry and give students a bag of groceries once a month.

“I want to make sure my students are fed and have the energy to come to school and want to learn,” the caring teacher said. “They’re good kids. They want to learn.”

Truly, Laurie went above and beyond the basic duty of a teacher. And her students couldn’t be any prouder.