On a warm Sunday in September, Courtney Starks hosted a food and clothing drive to give back to the NYC community that has treated him with such love. The event offered free bags of food, cleaning products, paper goods, and clothing to anyone who stopped by.
Friends, family, volunteers, and members of Courtney’s Corner joyously welcomed all those who came through the doors. Out back, groups of women filled reusable tote bags with every food item imaginable—bananas, mashed potatoes, baked beans, peanut butter, water bottles, noodles, and rice. Inside, volunteers folded clothing for men, women, and children—smiling and chatting with anyone and everyone who came to browse.
Photo by: Lauren Bailey Roach
The scene was lively and loud, with a DJ booth playing music in front of the Brooklyn building while children danced and let loose along the sidewalk. Courtney himself was making rounds, making sure everything was running smoothly and graciously thanking all who offered helping hands.
“This community has struggled through this pandemic. A lot of us don’t get that limelight to talk about what we’re going through, and I wanted to do my part to inspire, motivate, and give back to this community,” Courtney said.
Courtney is a leading music minister, youth minister, social media influencer, and the founder of Courtney’s Corner LLC. He established the brand in 2010 after earning a Business Administration degree from Nyack College. Today, he runs a YouTube talk show, a podcast, and an Instagram Live series on his social media platforms. Courtney and his team cover topics including financial literacy, women’s empowerment, suicide awareness, and the relationship between the LGBTQ+ community and the Church—just to name a few!
A book stand in front of the event drew in crowds of all types—one woman walked away with a Beyoncé biography while an eighth-grade boy chose a copy of the Hardy Boys; he brought his friend back with him minutes later. Lena’s Library, an organization started by Sophia and Lena Franklin, brings books to events to give away at no cost. They started the library to promote literacy.
Photo by: Lauren Bailey Roach
“We’re going back to the days when you had a book in your hand—one that you could hold onto, and if you didn’t know a word, you could look it up and learn. To me, it’s a sin to throw a book away—you’re throwing away education, literacy, and knowledge, and that’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted,” Sophia said.
With thousands of New Yorkers out of work and a community struggling under these uncertain times, Courtney’s Corner brought people together in unity.
“Never be too afraid to ask for help. There are people out here right now who are in a position like myself to give back and show love. It’s more than just words and going on TV to do a conference. It’s about being out in the streets every day, showing the people that we love them, we’re here for them, and we’re not giving up on our community,” Courtney said.