WHITMAN — Eighth-grader Clare LaMattina, 14, and her mom Michelle delivered the latest proceeds from her “Whitman Strong” lawn sign sales to the town’s food pantry Sunday afternoon.
The $5,525 check brought the total of donations — with $1,280 in Venmo donations still to come — to about $12,605.
A previous donation toward the total was in the amount of $5,800.
More funds are still coming in for a total of 890 signs.
The family had just decided to order another 100 signs, after more requests came in past the original cutoff, and 35 of those are already gone, Michelle LaMattina said.
The project has also inspired similar efforts in East Bridgewater, where the Kiwanis Club and Boy Scouts teamed up to run it, and in Abington, where state Rep. Alyson Sullivan, R-Abington, and the Scouts have joined together with some of Michelle’s relatives to conduct the fundraiser.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Jim Davidson, a volunteer at the Whitman Food Pantry. “It’s just great. … you have started a trend.”
“You hear the people come and talk to us … they feel like they are contributing in some way, even if it’s a little thing,” Michelle LaMattina said, noting that the project has inspired some good-natured neighborhood competition. “They’re having competitions [through Facebook challenges] of how many they can get on their street.”
She said that, while not everyone can afford to write a check for $50 to send to a charity, they feel they can contribute the $15 for an 18X24 Whitman Strong lawn signs, Clare LaMattina designed to benefit the Whitman Food Pantry. She is a member of the Girls in Action Club at Thayer Academy.
“The kids are getting excited to have a sign on their lawn,” Michelle LaMattina said. “My neighborhood’s never seen so much traffic.”
About 200 people drove by to pick up their signs on Friday, May 1 alone.
“You’ve inspired a lot of people with one thought,” Davidson said, noting one woman in Belmont saw a TV news story about Clare’s project and called the pantry to make a donation. “She said ‘It’s phenomenal, what you’re doing, and I want to help,’ and gave $50.”
Clare said the project has taken over the family’s dining room table.
Pantry President Bruce Perry described the need as sad, but said the response has been uplifting.
“I’ve never seen anything come close to this,” he said.
“There’s been times I’ve been choked up with pride for her,” Michelle LaMattina said. “We’re hoping it brings more awareness for next year and for the holidays.”
Davidson said the pantry has received six or eight new calls for assistance in the past week.
Perry said the restaurant gift certificates the donations also made possible were received with joy and surprise by clients.
“This will cover food purchases for several months, depending on the demand,” Davidson said of the $12,605.