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Making a difference: Local couple turns business into community outreach

By Staff | May 8, 2020

A table in Lellybelle Community Cafe is full of hand sewn masks on sale, the proceeds from which are going to the Shepherdstown Day Care. Courtesy photo

SHEPHERDSTOWN — In the year that Honor and Jay Thomas have spent in the local business community, they have already begun to make an impact.

Last April, Honor opened her shop, Honor D Fine Shoes & Hats, in the first floor back room of 121 West German Street. A couple of months ago, Roots Hair Salon moved out of the building into a new location down the street, allowing Honor’s business to take the first floor front room. But, unfortunately for Honor, the relocation happened right before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

After the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began encouraging Americans to wear face masks to prevent the oral spread of COVID-19, Honor began to think about how she could help her community. She realized that she could use her sewing abilities to make face masks out of batik fabric that had been donated to the Shepherdstown Day Care by Shepherdstown resident Mary O’Hara.

“Masks ($5.) for sale at Lelly Belle,” Honor announced on Facebook on Saturday. “Funds go to the Shepherdstown Daycare Center.”

While Honor sewed the masks, since her business was nonessential, she had to use a table in her husband’s essential business, Lellybelle Community Cafe, as the sale location. Her fundraiser was not the only community service taking place in the cafe, however.

Honor D Fine Shoes and Hats moved into its new location at the beginning of March 2020. Courtesy photo

Jay, her husband, has spent the last month-and-a-half offering free food to community members in need.

“Basically, if anyone needs food and can’t afford it, I’ll give them what we have,” Jay said. “If people can’t afford to go out to the grocery store, we’re here. I don’t want people to feel ashamed that they have to do it.”

The cafe, which Jay bought from its previous owners and re-opened in July 2019, has offered take-out service throughout the pandemic. When Jay began advertising that he would provide free meals to those in need, the community helped him in his efforts, giving monetary donations toward the meals and food to form a makeshift food pantry in the cafe.

The work of the Thomas’ is helping to provide for those most deeply affected by the pandemic and prevent the spread of the coronavirus, while raising money for another local organization. The couple’s generosity and kindness is their way of thanking their new community for helping their businesses succeed over the last year, according to Jay.

“I’m doing what I can to give back. It’s not something that I think is unique at all, but I just wanted to help people,” Jay said. “I thought, ‘What can I do to help?’ and this is what I came up with. I’m going to do it as long as I possibly can.”

Lellybelle Community Cafe has given free food to community members in need, throughout the pandemic. Tabitha Johnston