Lauren Seroyer (Courtesy of Lauren Seroyer)

Lauren Seroyer was eating a quick breakfast at school when she was inspired to start her nonprofit organization. A classmate approached her for some of her meal because he didn’t have enough to eat at home.

“I knew I had to do something to keep him—and other students like him—from ever having to tell that story again,” she told The Root.

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CATEGORY: Social Justice/Activism
AGE: 17
EDUCATION: Peachtree Ridge High School
HOMETOWN: Lawrenceville, Ga.
SOCIAL MEDIA: Twitter, Instagram

Lauren launched the Community Assistance and Resource Effort Closet in March 2016 with her brother, Grant. The CARE Closet is a food pantry that high school students can use confidentially. She reached out to her friends and local organizations to stock the pantry. And in the last year, the CARE Closet has expanded to schools in four states and has provided food and hygiene products to more than 950 students.

“The absolute most rewarding thing about leading this nonprofit are the anonymous notes of thanks that we receive from students that are using the closet,” she told The Root. “There are really no words to explain the feeling that comes from knowing that I am truly helping my peers with a basic need that will make their lives easier.”

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The organization was one of two groups that received a $25,000 grant from the local chapter of the United Way. That prize is enough to stock CARE Closets in every high school in Gwinnett County in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

In 2016, Lauren was honored with the McDonald’s 365Black Community Choice Award. She was also selected to participate in HerLead, a leadership program for young women that’s sponsored by Ann Inc. and Vital Voices.