Mom who made it her mission to feed East Durham children wins humanitarian award

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DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- We told you about Marcella Thompson back in August.

After airing her story, she received more than $14,000 dollars in donations to support her charity: The Mustard Seed Project.

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On Saturday, she won the John Hope Franklin Humanitarian award at Radio One Raleigh's 18th Annual Lamplighter Awards Show.



Since August, Thompson has been loading up her blue wagon packed with food for low-income families in her East Durham neighborhood.

"A lot of my mamas are young. And they don't know how to cook real food," Thompson said. "The children eat and they just have a good time and it's love in my food."

Each family gets a home cooked meal from her kitchen and a grocery bag-supported by community donations.

This summer, with the help of a city grant, Thompson fed 35 to 40 at-risk youth a day. When the grant ended, the community stepped up by donating more than $10,000 to her GoFundMe.

And she used that money to, among other things, purchase three refrigerators that are crammed in her small two bedroom apartment. She stores food bought with the donation money. Food donated from restaurants, churches and organizations also goes inside.

Thompson, who is on a fixed income like the families she helps, pays some of their bills with the donations she's received.

"I just thank them, thank them, thank them," she said.

Many of the children Thompson helps are at-risk with at least one parent who is unemployed, incarcerated, absent or dead.

This summer, Thompson used the donations to rent a bus to take the kids across town to the movies and to the park for a picnic.

"You should have seen their eyes light up. They got to play on something that other kids take for granted," she said. "It's not right. All kids should have the same opportunities. But because of where they live and because of the life circumstances that have happened, they don't dream, they don't wish. They don't realize their potential. If a child doesn't value their life they are not going to value yours."

Thompson meets the children where they are with food, faith, fun and a lot of hope.

Her prayer is to move the Mustard Seed Project out of her home and into a stable space with community support.

"We have got to start saying, 'these are our children.'"
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