“It’s hard to be successful and concentrate in school if you are hungry”

Parker White, 37, Youth Crusader

When Parker White became a parent, she realized a sense of duty that sparked her interest in helping others and ignited her curiosity about the children in her community.

Parker reached out to Guilford County Schools to learn about the unmet needs of the county’s students and learned that childhood hunger was one of the most prevalent issues. Shocked by this revelation, the Greensboro native set out on a mission to help.

“It’s hard to be successful and concentrate in school if you are hungry,” Parker says.

Parker created “BackPack Beginnings,” a non-profit organization dedicated to delivering child-centric services to feed, comfort and clothe children in need.

“Faith is important to me and I wanted to help.”

Parker thought she would help one school, running the program out of her dining room and helping to nourish about 50 kids—all in her spare time. Six years later, Parker and her cohort of 200+ volunteers serve over 6,000 children annually and provide more than just food.

BackPack Beginnings has four main programs: Food BackPack, Comfort BackPack, Food Pantry and Clothing Pantry.

Together, the programs aim to meet all the basic needs of Guilford County youth by providing kid-friendly shelf-stable food to preschool and elementary school-aged children; comfort items including blankets, stuffed animals, books, hygiene products, and school supplies to abused/neglected, homeless, foster, and refugee children; direct access to free and nutritious food for middle and high schoolers; and school uniforms and clothing.

Parker credits the hundreds of volunteers who help monthly with stuffing and delivering the backpacks. She also relies on partnerships with local businesses such as VF Corporation and Buckhead Betties for donations.

As she looks toward the future of BackPack Beginnings, Parker and her team aspire “to meet the vast majority, if not all, of the needs for food, clothing and basic necessities of the children in Guilford County.”

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