Teen Buys Repossessed Storage Units And Gives Everything Back To Original Owners

by Erica Gerald Mason
Shane Jones storage units
Shane Jones

‘It’s almost like a duty to give it back,’ the 16-year-old said

In an example of how the youth will totally lead the way if we olds just stand to the side and let them do their thing, a teen has figured out how to give back to those who have fallen on hard times. Rhode Island teen Shane Jones, 16, decided to make some extra money by buying abandoned storage units at auction, then selling the contents, The Washington Post reports. But it wasn’t long before he would return all of the items to the original owners.

“It seemed like something fun to do. I had some money I’d saved from working in a used bookstore,” Shane told The Post. He put in a winning bid of $100 on the contents of a storage unit at a nearby auction last August. Shane realized right away that he shouldn’t keep the items.

Shane Jones

It made him sad to sort through the contents; it was even worse when he found documents that belonged to the storage unit owner who had fallen behind on payments.

“I realized then that this wasn’t the same as getting stuff at a yard sale,” Shane said. “[The owner] was in prison, and his storage unit was auctioned off because he couldn’t afford to pay for it. This was probably everything he had left.”

Shane Jones

Shane tracked down the man’s mother and his parents helped the teen drop off her son’s belongings.

“I called her up and offered to give her everything,” Shane said, adding that she was elated to have it all.

After seeing the woman’s gratitude, Shane decided to enter other auctions in hope of recovering the units’ contents.

In January, Shane won another auction — this one his third. Some items in the storage unit had the renter’s name on them, so he tracked her down in Connecticut.

As a result of the woman’s job loss, he and his parents learned she had fallen behind on her storage unit rent. Heartbreakingly, she lost her child three years prior to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Shane Jones

“All of her baby items and all of her childhood photos were in the storage locker,” Shane said. “She started to cry and said everything she had to remind her of her baby was in that locker, and she just didn’t have the finances to keep up with the payments.”

Word of Shane’s new hobby spread at his high school, which surprised him.

“We’re delighted to see one of our students doing such a wonderful thing,” South Kingstown Principal Chip McGair told The Washington Post.

Shane’s mom said he has been pretty overwhelmed by the attention he has been receiving.

“But he also realizes that kindness inspires kindness,” Shane’s mom, Sarah Markey, told The Post. “Buying the contents of a storage unit and giving them back is a creative way to pay it forward. Shane hopes that somebody else will get the idea to do the same thing in their own town.”

Shane Jones

“I started out thinking that bidding at a storage auction was kind of like a yard sale, but now I know that’s not true,” Shane said. “These people didn’t choose to give me this stuff. They didn’t have a choice. It’s almost like a duty to give it back.”