A sugary commemoration to raise money for scholarship in memory of Alec White

  • COURTESY—Alec White’s family poses in front of Alec’s mural in Loudon Recreational Skate Park with pink donuts and merchandise available for purchase

  • A service for Alec White, a 16-year-old who committed suicide last week in Loudon, was held at Grace Episcopal Church in Concord on Friday, Nov. 10, 2017. (ELIZABETH FRANTZ / Monitor staff) Elizabeth Frantz

Monitor staff
Published: 2/24/2022 3:57:48 PM
Modified: 2/24/2022 3:57:25 PM

On Saturday, photos of pink-frosted doughnuts will flood social media.

Tagged with the hashtag, #pinkdonutsforalec, the photos will commemorate the life of Alec White who died by suicide in 2017 at 16 years old.

N.H. Doughnut Co. will accept orders for a half dozen or dozen pink doughnuts to be picked up at the downtown Concord or Chichester locations on Saturday— what would have been Alec’s 21st birthday. The Chichester location will also be open for walk-in orders.

Proceeds from the pink doughnut sales will go towards a local scholarship fund created in Alec’s name that is awarded to two students at Merrimack Valley High School, his alma mater. Each year, about $1,000 is given to a student pursuing a career in mental health and another interested in a career in the trades.

Alec, a shy, skateboarding fanatic, always opted for pink doughnuts on his birthday instead of a cake. Joli White, Alec’s sister, said the upbeat, sugary symbol brings attention to difficult topics like suicide in a positive way.

“Finding a symbol to put a smile on our face even though we had to go through that is what helps us get through his birthday every year,” she said.

Those hoping to support the cause can also order merchandise — mugs, beanies and stickers— with a doughnut logo, which will also help fund the annual scholarship.

Over the last three years, Alec’s birthday event has gained traction. Joli said in addition to the New Hampshire-based shops, a doughnut shop in Indiana will donate their pink doughnut proceeds to Alec’s scholarship. Awareness of their hashtag has grown too, with people as far away as Qatar posting smiling photos with a doughnut. The campaign has amassed support from TikTok stars, including Amanda Riley with more than 90,000 followers and Carter Kench with nearly 4 million followers. Both are expected to participate this year, White said.

The ultimate goal, she said, is to grow the scholarship into a national program.

“I love being able to give back directly to the community that we're in, but hopefully enough people find out about it, they complain, and we have to give the scholarship to more people,” she said.

Alec struggled with mental illness for many years leading up to his death. 

“We had all the tools that are available to any family at our fingertips,” Alec’s stepmother Carrie James told the Monitor shortly after his death.  “But even with all of that, he still lost the battle.”

Alec’s family knows how hard it is to help a loved one who is suicidal. They said they can’t imagine what that’s like for people who don’t have access to the resources they did. That has motivated the family to fiercely advocate for their cause year after year. 

Joli said she knows her introverted brother would cringe to see his name plastered across the internet, but she hopes he would be proud of the headway they’ve made on addressing the stigma and lack of resources surrounding mental illness. 

“I mean, Alec would hate this because he was super shy,” she said. “But he would definitely love the pink doughnuts.”

For more information, visit the Instagram account, @alecsantics16, or the Facebook page, @alecsantics. 

If you or someone you know might be at risk for suicide, contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255.

For additional resources, visit NAMI New Hampshire's website https://www.naminh.org

Teddy Rosenbluth bio photo

Teddy Rosenbluth is a Report for America corps member covering health care issues for the Concord Monitor since spring 2020. She has covered science and health care for Los Angeles Magazine, the Santa Monica Daily Press and UCLA's Daily Bruin, where she was a health editor and later magazine director. Her investigative reporting has brought her everywhere from the streets of Los Angeles to the hospitals of New Delhi. Her work garnered first place for Best Enterprise News Story from the California Journalism Awards, and she was a national finalist for the Society of Professional Journalists Best Magazine Article. She graduated from UCLA with a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology.

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