Ebony Jones, founder and executive director of Give Outrageously, works on initiatives to help members of the greater Jackson community. Courtesy Ebony Jones.
Ebony Jones is a woman on a mission, in multiple senses of the word. She answered the call to turn compassion into action and bring together people in need with people in the community who want to help. In December 2018, Jones founded Give Outrageously, an organization is focused on creating mission projects in Jackson and strives continuously to give, inspire, lead and partner with the community to help those in need.
"When we give, we do it outrageously. Our goal is to create a lasting impression in the community, and not only just give but also have fun," she says.
The fifth of 10 children, Jones was born in Phoenix, Ariz., and during her teenage years, her family moved to Jackson. A graduate of Forest Hill High School and Strayer University, she is currently working on her master's degree in organizational leadership through California Baptist University.
Jones and her husband, Wilbur, have two daughters and two sons whose ages range from 1 to 8.
Last year, her now 8-year-old daughter, Leah, came to her with the idea of collecting 700 food items to feed hungry people in the community. Jones thought, "That's a lot," but instead of trying to convince her daughter that 700 items might be an impossible task to accomplish, she encouraged her to work on reaching her goal, no matter how "outrageous" it may have seemed. Before long, Leah met and exceeded her goal and subsequently donated the items to the Salvation Army.
Little did Jones know that this simple act of kindness from her daughter would set to motion a city-wide movement and change the trajectory of her life.
Soon, Jones left the comfort of her real estate career to work with GO full-time. Embracing the risks involved have been important to the growth of her vision. "It's about having faith. Faith is having to take your eyes off everything and just do it. No matter what you have or don't have. Just do it. Literally do it one step at a time."
GO's one-year anniversary will coincide with its annual initiative, "Warm the City," which focuses on providing love, fellowship and warmth to people who attend. The event will be held at Poindexter Park on Dec. 15, and it aims to bring Jacksonians the warmth and happiness associated with the holiday season, as well as feed those in need. To that end, the event will feature also Christmas carolers and Santa Claus.
"It's not just about giving away items and feeding people. It is about building a community, having fun and bringing smiles to people's faces. That is the goal of this and every project," Jones says. Other GO initiatives slated for the upcoming year are "Love the City," "Cool the City" and "Trunk the City."
Additionally, GO partners with various schools within Jackson Public School District to help students with programs that focus on literacy, school attendance and state test preparation.
Jones credits GO's success to its many volunteers.
"Give Outrageously has been successful because of our committed base of volunteers. Our volunteers make gifts of time or money, which make big differences in the community."
Jones says that GO continues to grow thanks to the continued support and encouragement of friends, family, local churches, businesses and organizations in the greater Jackson area. "It's all about neighbors helping neighbors."
Anyone who would like to volunteer to help with "Warm the City" and serve some holiday cheer can sign up on GO's website.
"Come on out, roll up your sleeves and let's get busy," she says.