Woman buys 82 Starbucks coffee drinks for strangers to honor her mom, who died from COVID-19

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. -- After Sharon Dunski Vermont's mother died in November from her battle with COVID-19, she wanted to keep her mom's memory alive and spread a message to others.

"She was so loving and so caring, family was everything to her," said Dunski Vermont.

Her mom, Harriet, was exposed to coronavirus at a nursing facility.

"It makes me so angry because my mom didn't deserve COVID-19, no one deserves COVID-19 but we did everything to prevent her from being exposed," she said.

Harriet was hospitalized just days after being exposed to the virus. Dunski Vermont said her mom survived the virus and doctors were about to send her home, but her family decided she was too weak and sent her back to the nursing facility to get physical therapy.

"They found her unresponsive on November 29, a few days after thanksgiving and she passed away that night," said Dunski Vermont.

Dunski Vermont wanted to honor her mom and decided to do that by including one of her mom's favorite things.

"In her memory, I bought 82 white mochas, one for every year of her life," said Dunski Vermont.

Dunski Vermont asked Starbucks to give the first 82 people who ordered a white mocha their drink for free along with a letter she typed up explaining the drink was in honor of her mom.

"It's such a cool thing they did to bring joy to people when there's not a whole lot of it going on right now," said Laurie Kelsey, who was surprised the drink she went to pick up was free.

"It was really sweet but a sad reminder of everything that is going on," said Allie Kelsey.

The letter had one request:

"All we ask for in return is that people mask and distance and wash their hands and stay home and do all of the things the CDC recommends to prevent the spread of COVID-19," said Dunski Vermont.

Dunksi Vermont said if her mom's death can spread that message then her mom did not die in vain and hopes even though the 82 drinks have already been handed out, her mom's memory can live on.

"If you really want to think of my mom, add a couple extra pumps of the white mocha. She liked it extra sweet," said Dunski Vermont.