With a personal motto of “It’s always the right time to do something good,” it’s no surprise that Amanda Baum was recently named a Hometown Hero in DeKalb, Ill.
A 22-year middle school teacher and longtime member of the DeKalb Classroom Teachers Association (Local 4328), Baum won the local award in August, which recognizes outstanding DeKalb area first-responders like teachers, nurses, and others for their contributions to the community.
She was nominated for the award by her fellow union member Cate Cardella, which Baum said was really special because Cardella is “the most selfless person on the planet.”
“For her to recognize something that I was doing when she is so selfless in her own right was truly special,” she said.
The award was well-deserved. Amid the pandemic, Baum had decided she wanted to do her part to help a friend’s community school supply drive succeed. The “Back-to-School Bash” program was unable to take supply donations this year due to COVID-19, so only monetary donations were being accepted. To secure funds for the program, Baum got creative!
She designed shirts with a positive message - “Add Love/Subtract Hate” - and began to market them on social media. For each shirt sold, Baum donated $2. Her designs were shared by friends, who shared with their friends, and began selling fast. Before she knew it, her shirts were being worn across the country and she had $750 to contribute to the school supply program for needy kids.
“It was exciting to see other people get excited and jump on this bandwagon with me,” Baum said. “It was also fun to hear people tell me they saw someone wearing my shirts!”
Her shirt design was so popular that she decided to do a second round of sales. This time, she donated the funds to Safe Passage, a DeKalb area organization that works to help victims of domestic and sexual violence.
When both rounds of sales were completed, Baum had earned about $1,000 and sold her shirts in 31 states. “I was really disappointed that no one in Alaska bought one,” she joked.
That may happen yet. Baum and some of her friends are hoping to design additional shirts and sell them via an online store.
“We want to always have one design meant for giving back to the community so we can continue to help make a difference. It was exciting to see how quickly this project grew, and I can’t wait to see how much we can give back to other organizations in the future.”