ST. LOUIS – Think about this: You get in the back of an Uber and your driver tells you to look inside of a box and take some condoms—among other things.It may seem strange, but one woman has a really good reason for this.
Lawanda Smith has been driving Uber for over two years now. She loves it. Smith is a woman with a drive to help others.
"Everything I do comes from the heart,” she said. "When I see someone down, I want to at least make them smile, smiles go a long way."
Over the past two years, she has taken more than 1,000 trips, driving people across the bi-state. Smith knows when she drops people off, with alcohol and sometimes drugs involved, bad decisions can happen."I take people to the bars. I take people to entertainment joints, or as they call strip clubs," she said.But, it was still disheartening for her to find out, St. Louis is at the top of the list, having the nation’s highest STD rates.
"We shouldn't be proud,” she said.
It's a list the city has been at the top of for decades.
"And I want to make a difference," Smith said.
With her urge to help others, she decided to do what she can to help drive STD numbers down.
"You don’t want no STD,” she said. “You don’t want to wake up wondering what do I have this time,” she said.
That's why she created, the “Uber Box.”
"Inside the Uber Box you got your candies, your different kind of candies you may like," she said.
But more importantly?
"You have your wet ones to wipes your hands. Your life style in your hands [and] the other good condoms, the one."She gives each passengers condoms behind the motto of “Help Yo Self to Protect Yo self.” And after each ride, she gives her passengers a thank you card. It's something people get a kick out of, but love at the same time.
"Turned my bad night into a great night. very sweet,” Smith said reading a review from her Uber account. “They love the Uber box."
She's bringing fun to help reverse a trend in St. Louis. But, she's serious when she says protect yourself.
"it is okay and to go out there and teach the young people if you are going to do it, protect yourself,” she said.Smith’s mission has caught on with the Department of Health. The agency donated condoms to her.
She said the organization loves what she's doing. Smith said since she’s been driving for Uber, she has given out more than 1,000 condoms.
She finds herself taking many trips to the Department of Health. And she doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.