Jason Johnson wanted to give back to the people fighting on the front lines against COVID-19.
He started out with the idea to buy meals for hospital staff and other medical personnel with funds from his own pocket, but in the weeks that followed his idea grew into an organization that had since raised money to provide meals for hundreds of medical and emergency workers in North Georgia.
Johnson said he just wanted to show those working on the frontline against the virus that he had their backs.
“It started off with I just wanted to do it myself to give back, and I didn’t want any credit for it,” Johnson said. “So I just put up a post asking who’s in the medical field and wants lunch. My goal was to spend about $50 or $100 a day for 7 days.”
Several individual medical professionals from Lumpkin County replied to Jason’s message, and he was able to provide them with meals, but quickly he decided he wanted to expand his operation to nearby Forsyth.
“I’m a bigger part of Forsyth County cause I coach my daughter’s softball team out of Bennett Park and I have two adult co-ed teams out of Central Park, so I decided to message Forsyth and see who in the medical field I could provide lunch for,” Johnson said.
Among the responses, Johnson heard from a woman who worked with Papa Johns and wanted to get involved. With her help and a steep discount from the pizzeria, Johnson began making plans to feed the staff at Northside Hospital Forsyth.
“And then I decided to post on the Focus on Forsyth Facebook group and ask who wanted to go in with me to help buy lunch for the whole Northside staff,” Johnson said, “and within 12 hours we had over $2,700 raised, so it went from buying 200 pizzas to buying 340 pizzas with another 25 donated by Papa Johns. And we were able to feed the entire first and second shift for all of Northside.”
The effort was so successful that Johnson started receiving messages from people with new suggestions of what groups to provide lunches for, and Johnson’s organization “Georgia Cares” was born.
With the help of donations from the community, Johnson has been able to partner with different restaurants to feed Georgia Highlands Medical Services, several urgent care facilities, and the entire Forsyth County Fire Department.
The feedback from the community as a whole has been overwhelmingly positive, according to Johnson. He has received phone calls, photos and messages thanking him for his efforts to help so many hardworking members of the community.
“There has been so much positive feedback, it’s been awesome,” Johnson said. “It’s kind of a moment where you can see your good come to fruition.”
Several of the groups who have received lunches have asked who to credit for the meals, but Johnson is adamant that he isn’t doing any of it for the recognition.
“A woman in administration at Northside messaged me asking who to give credit to,” Johnson said, “and I thought and prayed about it and then told her to give credit to Meredith with Papa Johns and to the residents of Forsyth County.”
Having provided meals to so many groups in Forsyth and Lumpkin County, Johnson now wants to branch out to Dawson County.
“I posted in a couple places to see if I could get traction for Dawson and haven’t gotten too much so far, but I decided that when I finish with Forsyth, if I have to I’ll just do it myself, like pick a small place and just kind of go from there,” Johnson said.
Johnson isn’t planning on stopping his efforts anytime soon as long as he has the funds to support his venture.
“I just want to let everybody know that I appreciate them and support them on the front lines,” Johnson said. “And it’s an awesome feeling knowing that I can make a difference.”
For more information on what Johnson and Georgia Cares have been up to in the community, visit the Georgia Cares Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaCares2020/
If you’re interested in donating to Georgia Cares and helping continue providing meals for medical and emergency personnel in Dawson, Forsyth and other counties, visit https://www.facebook.com/GeorgiaCares2020/ for more information.