OLATHE, Kan. — Just a few years ago, Joni Moreland was working a corporate job when she decided it was time for a drastic career change.

“The whole time I was there I would say, ‘You know what? There’s so much more I could be doing. I’m not helping anybody here,'” she said. “So I always told myself, I said when I grow up, I want to be able to find a job where I was helping people.”

So for the past five years, Moreland has been running the Starfish Project Foundation.

“I heard a story. Well, I heard it as a little girl,” she said.

Moreland said a story about a little girl’s quest to save a starfish inspired her foundation’s name.

“There’s this little girl, and she’s walking down the beach. She says if I don’t throw them back, they’ll die,” Moreland said.

“And he’s looking around, and he says, ‘But there’s thousands of them everywhere. You couldn’t save them all.’ So she picks one up and throws it back and says, ‘No, but I made a difference to that one,’ picks up the next one and says that I made a difference to that one.”

And that story has inspired a mission.

“We can’t help everybody, but we can make a difference one life at a time and encourage people to do the same thing,” Moreland said.

At Starfish, anyone and everyone is welcome. You can walk in the door, grab a bag and browse the food pantry. It’s purposely set up like a grocery store, but the difference at Starfish is everyone can shop for free.

The foundation partners with restaurants, grocery stores and other food pantries, taking their excess products to stock its food pantry.

“Gosh, we get food coming in every day, and again we just welcome people to come and get what they can use,” Moreland said.

Bread, canned goods, milk and meat are all readily available. Moreland said there are no questions asked, no vetting required.

“By taking that factor out, we just feel more people will get the things that they need,” Moreland said.

On the day FOX4 visited, volunteers were working, filling brown paper bags with foods. They delivered to more than 350 homeless students in Olathe Public Schools.

“The schools can just reach out and let us know how many they need,” Moreland said. “And the best part about that is we put it in the offices, and that way the child is identified as needing those items, they can send it home in a discreet bag and they can come to school with dignity.”

Moreland is an Olathe native who gets it. She knows the struggle for many families because she’s been there.

“Being here my entire life, you see what is truly here — the people, the problems. You grow up with that,” she said.

It’s partly why she’s always working on ideas to expand her organization to reach more homes and more families.

“Instead of it going to a landfill or being disposed of, how can we expand our operation where we can take the pallets in, we can distribute it out — because again even if it’s not Olathe, it’s all over the KC metro,” Moreland said. “People are hungry.”

And Moreland believes hunger shouldn’t be a concern.

“We don’t have the prettiest space here, but what we do is we try to make the biggest impact we can,” she said.

For that, Moreland is a remarkable woman.