Face of Star: Christina Flores 

Founder of Star Outreach helps those in need with dignity

When Christina Flores moved to Idaho in 2005, she was shocked to learn that the state's childhood poverty rate was among the highest in the nation.

"I was just plain appalled that that could be," she said.

Rather than ignore the problem, Flores decided to find a way to help. In 2007, she organized her first food drive. By 2009, the organization she founded, Star Outreach, was a full-fledged nonprofit bringing social services closer for the residents of the small town on the western edge of Ada County.

Depending solely on donations from the community, Star Outreach (staroutreachonline.com) not only runs a food bank but has added a summer lunch program tied to the local library's summer reading program, serving more than 300 kids. The group also works with local schools on an annual school-supplies drive. Near the holidays, the group organizes an adopt-a-family program, making sure roughly 75 area families have a holiday meal and gifts for their children.

From the beginning, the goal was simply to help, not for accolades. "Anyone could come for food or services without losing their dignity," Flores said. "We don't ask any questions."

Flores and a dedicated group of fellow volunteers do ask one question routinely, when they regularly check with the schools, seniors groups and other community organizations: Is there anything Star Outreach can help with?

"People call all the time," she said. "We look for those who need help."

Flores is quick to give credit to her neighbors for being willing to step up whenever they are needed.

"It's a great community," she said. "When we ask for something, people dig in and give."

That is clearly shown by the fact that Star Outreach's food bank receives enough donations to send supplies to nine other area food banks while working with approximately 70 families per month. But the food bank isn't resting on its past successes. For the first time, the organization planted a garden on donated land in the heart of Star with the goal of stocking its pantry with fresh produce. It's the next step in building what Flores hopes will be an organization that stands the test of time, regardless of who is running it.

"It's not about the need today but to build a program that will be there 20 or 30 or 40 years from now," she said.

Flores credits her faith and her upbringing with her desire to do volunteer work, but quickly adds that it's not uncommon. "Some people just have a desire to do that," she said. "It's all unconditional, and [volunteers] don't mind getting their hands dirty.

"You're doing the right thing for people."

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