Starting in her days working as a paralegal in the special victim's unit of the Las Vegas District Attorney's Office, Stephanie Gardner knew she had a keen interest in working with underprivileged youth.
"It's just something I've loved doing," she said. "It's a passion of mine to work with kids in the community who are in need."
After moving to Carson City in 2007, she went to work as an assistant case manager for Court Appointed Special Advocates to continue serving children.
When she heard of the opening for director of Food For Thought, the organization that discreetly provides food for children over the weekend, it seemed a natural fit.
"It's a great organization that helps a lot of kids in the community," she said. "It's an exciting organization and a very successful organization."
Food For Thought was started in 2006 at Fritsch Elementary School, when parent-teacher association volunteer Rebecca Rund noticed children in need at the school.
While the students qualified for free breakfast and lunch served at the school, many went without over the weekends.
She ran program from her home and later moved into a small warehouse, but it continued to grow to include all schools in the Carson City School District.
In April 2009, Food For Thought opened its 3,000-square-foot warehouse at 3579 Highway 50 E., No. 221.
Volunteers now provide meals for close to 750 children in Carson City and surrounding counties.
Gina Session, president of the Food For Thought Board of Directors, worked with Rund, who resigned in February for personal reasons, from the beginning.
"Rebecca did such a tremendous job with this organization," Session said. "We owe her a debt of gratitude. She really poured her heart and soul into this organization."
Gardner said the program serves transient children, who often move from motel to motel or share a small living space with other families.
"There are a lot of homeless in this community that people don't see," she said.
School counselors refer children to the program. Meals are then delivered to the school where they are discreetly dispersed to participants on Friday afternoons.
Gardner and her husband Gerald, assistant district attorney, have three children, ages 9, 8 and 2.
Gardner said she hopes to expand the food choices to include more natural options, like fresh fruits and vegetables.
She said she is also eager to work alongside the many volunteers who make the operations run smoothly.
"You are making a huge difference on a day-to-day basis," she said. "You are really helping children."
YOU CAN HELP
To get involved, call Food for Thought at 883-1011 or go to www.nvfoodforthought.org for more information.