A Missouri woman turned her grief into hope after she lost 11 of her family members and friends to COVID-19. Shana Jones, of Maplewood, sets up dozens of tables outside her home six days a week with hundreds of free items for those in need. Jones lost the first eight of her friends and relatives in her home town of Albany, Georgia, in the week before and after her March 25, 2020 birthday. “I cried, and I felt weak. It just became so overwhelming that I became numb” she said. But soon after, Jones wanted to use her grief to do something good for her community, and she began putting a collection of tables on her front lawn, each one full of food and supplies for anyone to take — free of charge.
The tables were stocked with paper products, snacks, canned goods and cleaning supplies — things that a struggling family may have a hard time affording if they have fallen on hard times. Residents only have to drive by and take what they need from the “Grab-N-Go” tables. Although she remains heartbroken from the losses, she wanted the tragedy to be a stepping stone and decided to give back to her community. Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has given away food to more than 300 families a week.
“A lot of people cannot go back to work full time, they’re part-time and they’re still trying to make it, but they are struggling because, you know, they’re home. They can’t work” Jones said. Jones’ generous actions meant so much to her neighborhood that many left notes expressing their appreciation. “Every time I get a note,I feel that the angel of one of my family members or friends is saying, ‘Well done” Jones said.
I have elderly people who come by and say, ‘I’m scared to go to the store, can I get some cabbage off your table?’ People come by and donate. They just put stuff on the table to help the community. That’s all I’m trying to do,” Jones said. The St. Louis County Council awarded Shana Jones with a special resolution “for making a difference in Maplewood.”
Lisa Clancy, the Chairperson of the St. Louis County Council said “I see Shana as an inspiration. “We just wanted to honor her for what she’s doing. I think it’s great.” While some items are donated, Jones has purchased many of the items herself, costing her hundreds of dollars. “Her main focus is improving the lives of those around her,” according to the GoFundMe page set up to accept donations for the effort.