NewsUplifting Arizona


Valley mom honors daughter's legacy by giving food to children in need

Posted at 6:00 PM, Jun 14, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-16 20:38:11-04

MESA, AZ — A group of volunteers line the driveway leading up to Dr. Joan Leafman's garage. Several tables are lined with packs of ready-to-eat food -- tuna and crackers, granola bars, peanut butter, and ravioli. It's a busy scene at 7 a.m. in this Mesa neighborhood, but everyone with Corbin's Legacy is excited to pack neon backpacks full of food for children who really need it.

Among them is Joan, the mother of the organization's namesake, Corbin Leafman.

"She was a Title-I elementary school teacher," Joan explained. "She walked through the cafeteria line every day holding up $20 so that the cafeteria ladies knew that every child in the school was going to get a hot free lunch."

However, Corbin died at the age of 30 from breast cancer. Before she passed, she told her mom she wanted to be remembered for how she lived and not how she died.

"She was a true humanitarian. So, to honor her, we decided to create Corbin's Legacy and to pursue what she was interested in, which was making sure that underserved children were served in a way that would allow them to be successful in school," Joan said.

To honor Corbin, Joan and her group of volunteers get together once a week to pack enough food for 200 children to eat for seven days each. They make sure every item is edible and in packaging they can open themselves.

"Many of these children don't have water, they don't have electricity, can openers, or parents who can help them. They're left alone," Joan explained.

This week, the group brought their packs to The Heart of Isaac Community Center in Phoenix.

"When we first started with Corbin's Legacy and we posted it, we didn't think a lot of people would come," said one volunteer with the community center, before adding how popular the event became. "We had a line outside. We were able to put a little table in and it was just so many children coming out and they were so grateful for the bags."

Corbin's Legacy isn't only about tackling food insecurities, but also medical care.

With 1 in 6 Arizona children not getting proper health care, the organization set up two medical clinics. Plus, they also host health and food fairs, relying mostly on volunteers. It's all in an effort to help those who need it most and turn a mother's pain into her passion.

And, when it comes to what she thinks Corbin would say, Joan said, "I think she would be like me... thinking 'not enough, you need to do more.' And we try. We keep trying."