Charlotte County Boys & Girls Clubs is offering a dinner drive-thru service at the club to support local families three time per week.
“One of the biggest challenges for many families in Charlotte County is food insecurity, as we all fight together the COVID-19 pandemic,” said said Boys & Girls Club Director of Development Monica Luna. “Due to the virus, we recently had to temporarily stop offering our after-school program, in order to fight this pandemic and focus all of our efforts on the health and safety of our club members, staff and volunteers.”
The dinners will be served from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21450 Gibralter Drive, Suite 10, in Port Charlotte, and at Gulf Cove United Methodist Church, 1100 S. McCall Road. Dinner is available for any child in the community 18 and younger.
“We won’t ask any questions and we won’t turn anyone away,” said Lynn Dorler, Executive Director at Boys and Girls Club.
Staff members at the club have been hosting virtual programs every afternoon.
“We encourage any child who wants to participate to check out our Facebook page for program information,” Dorler said.
The organization served 104 dinners on Tuesday evening and 124 on Wednesday night.
“Our goal is to help the community anyway we can, especially since the center has closed,” Luna said. “We are here for the community and we’re looking forward to serving more kids. Our commitment to our mission remains the same, we are here to help Charlotte County youth.”
Staff at the center have been working on ways to continue providing programs remotely. There are games, videos and online trivia currently available for kids who used to spend time at the center.
“We’re keeping parts of our regular program online,” Luna said. “It helps keep staff employed while still serving our kids. We are happy the community is taking advantage of this service.”
Parents do not have to leave their cars, they just have to report how many kids are with them. The menu consists of spaghetti and meatballs on Tuesdays, chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese on Wednesdays, and hog dogs with beans and chips on Thursdays.
The program actually started in October, but kids were fed inside the club. Now, the food is boxed and distributed in the parking lot.
Cindy Zwer and Danielle Meeker served the dinners on Thursday night. Zwer is the front office specialist at the club and Meeker is a staff member who has been a member of the club since she was in kindergarten.
“This is like my second home,” Meeker said. “We definitely miss the kids being here. It’s doesn’t feel normal, but at least we get to see some of them when they come for dinner.”
Zwer added that although the center is much quieter, it’s seems too quiet now.
The dinners will be available for an undetermined amount of time.
“We are happy to be able to provide this service,” Luna said. “We miss our kids every day, but knowing we are able to help in some way makes our hearts happy.”