HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- On an empty stretch of Route 5 steps from Westover Episcopal in Charles City, stands an oasis amidst the chaos of coronavirus.
Sixteen-year-old Natania Jones is softening the blow of the pandemic by offering comfort to those who are desperate: a box measuring about 21 inches by 30 inches filled with toilet paper, soap, soup, books and toys.
“They’ve been up less than a week,” Natania explained. “In such a short amount of time, when I opened the box and the toilet paper was gone and the cans were gone, it made me feel like I was making a difference and making an impact.”
Natania's four COVID-19 19 relief boxes span metro Richmond from the Henrico Government Complex, one in Varina outside New Market Veterinary Clinic and two in Charles City outside Westover Episcopal Church and Indian Fields Restaurant.
“I think the smallest act of kindness can really inspire other people,” Natania said. “I think it’s a real big issue and its on everyone’s mind right now. We’re all in the same boat.”
The Girl Scout with Troop 787 built them a as free little libraries to earn her Gold Award, but then the coronavirus upended her two-year-old goal, so she adapted.
“The project has changed so much since I started,” Natania said. “And then it turned into so much more for me. It's really been a passion project now. The Gold Award is just a plus.”
The 16-year-old restocks her boxes every day or so with supplies she buys or has been donated.
“I want to put my hand on hand sanitizer, but that is hard to come by,” Natania said. “It makes me feel warm and like I’m doing something good. It's filling me with hope.”
The junior at J.R. Tucker High School doesn't want people to go without in a time of need.
“Words can inspire people, but actions make permanent change,” Natania said.
Henrico Deputy Sheriff Nathan Jones beams watching his daughter put others first.
“I can’t even express in words how proud she makes me every day. It is always something every day she makes me so proud,” Jones said. “Even if she wasn’t working on the Gold Award Project right now, she would be working on something else to help the community members out.”
This teenager vows to keep the relief mission going through the pandemic.
“Even if you don’t think it is making a difference, the smallest actions can make a big difference,” Natania said. “I wasn’t 100 percent sure of what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something that helped people. It's definitely my calling.”
Click here if you would like to donate to Natania’s cause.
Greg McQuade features local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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