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STARS Complex delivers more than 10K meals to SWFL families

One Dunbar native is on a mission to feed local children who previously relied on their school cafeteria.

The Fort Myers STARS Complex is delivering support to the front door of children who are home alone or in need.

“We have distributed 10,000 meals over the last four weeks throughout the city,” said STARS Complex manager, Amber Smith.

STARS staff packing meals from the Lee County School District into coolers so they can deliver them to local families. (WINK News)

 

If there’s one thing she loves about managing the complex, it’s using it to help her hometown.

“I was born and raised here in Fort Myers and the Dunbar community,” she said, “and I saw a big need.”

Right now the STARS complex is one of the Lee County School District’s “Grab & Go” sites where parents can pick up breakfast and lunch for their children between 9 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., but Smith saw a need to reach children who can’t get themselves to pick-up locations.

“We noticed that there was a lot of children that would not have access or to be able to come to a site, whether it be transportation or they would be home alone,” Smith said.

That’s why STARS staff now spend each weekday packing coolers full of food from the Lee County School District and putting them into a van.

“Our STARS complex van that’s usually used to transport children in our athletic program,” Smith said.

Its new purpose is transporting meals to hungry families who can’t get themselves to the STARS Complex “grab-and-go” site.

“We physically go to the homes or group of homes where we know that children are located and distribute meals there,” Smith said.

STARS complex staff with the van they’re now using to deliver meals to SWFL families. (WINK News)

Javarsha Smith said she also takes pride in knowing she’s helping other working parents.

“There are many people, like myself, my kids are home while I’m still working,” she said.

Now, she and recreational leader, Latisha Stillman, see their daily deliveries spreading joy.

“I like seeing the little kids’ faces,” Stillman said. “They’re running up to us, they’ll see us tomorrow…We’re making sure that kids get a hot meal instead of trying to go in a house and try to use the parents’ stove and an accident happens.”

Keeping children who are home safer and reminding the community this help is just a few digits, or a few miles drive away.

“We’re here to help them,” Smith said, “even beyond the meals. Anything they need assistance with, they can call us.”

Smith says they also deliver items like toilet paper and bleach as needed by families and welcome those donations at the STARS Complex.

You can contact the STARS Complex at 239-321-7545 or [email protected]yers.com

Reporter:Melinda Lee
Writer:Briana Harvath
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