Making a Kid’s Day, One Shirt at a TimeFebruary 25, 2020
For Bob Baiguy, owner of Bob the Screenprinter in Windham, Maine, giving back is a main tenet of business. “I have never done any advertising,” he says. “It’s all just word of mouth.” Bob doesn’t have any salespeople on his team—instead, he drums up business by getting involved in the community, both as a volunteer and youth sports coach. “I know deep down that if you help the community, it will help you out, too,” he says.
20,000 shirts for 20,000 smiles
So it’s no surprise that for the past 14 years—about as long as Bob has been in business—he’s been printing shirts for Camp Sunshine, a lakeside retreat for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. “Kids from all over the world come to Camp Sunshine, and it’s all free,” says Bob. “They set up programs for the child, the siblings, and the parents, and they get to interact with other families going through the same thing.”
Since its founding, Camp Sunshine has provided support to more than 50,000 children and adults from all 50 states and 27 countries. Kids who come to the camp are offered opportunities to relax, play games, and get to know other children going through similar difficulties in illness-specific sessions. “The first time I visited, I was in tears,” says Bob. “It’s pretty amazing what they do there.”
Bob not only prints highly-discounted shirts for more than 2,500 annual Camp Sunshine volunteers, but he also donates apparel for the camp’s fundraising events like Freezin’ For A Reason, a multi-city “polar dip,” and the organization’s Suitcase Party, a red carpet soiree that culminates in grand prize winners being flown to New York City on a private jet. Altogether, Bob estimates he prints 20,000 shirts annually for Camp Sunshine events and volunteers. It’s hard work, especially for events that require thousands of shirts at a time, but for Bob, it’s more than worth it. “There’s a difference between working for someone corporate—someone who would give you, say, two or three dollars more a shirt—and a place putting smiles on people’s faces,” says Bob. “It’s the small things that allow people who might be having a really hard time to continue.”
A new way of giving back
A few years ago, Bob decided to ditch client Christmas cards in favor of a more meaningful gift. “I sent out an email to all my customers and said, ‘I’m not asking you for any money. I’m just telling you what I’m doing,’” he says. “‘Instead of buying a Christmas card for $3, I’m going to donate $5 per customer to sponsor me to jump into the ocean for Freezin’ for a Reason for Camp Sunshine. Because you’re a customer, you’re making a difference.’” Many of Bob’s clients were touched by the gift and offered to donate some of their own money, as well.
As gratifying as it was to give back, Bob says he’s not in it for the accolades. “A lot of things we do, we just do,” he says. And that’s why he values working with SanMar—because the company shares his strong moral compass. “It’s their philosophy to do the right thing for the right reasons,” he says. “If you help people without expecting anything in return, you’ll get something in return.”
But, Bob says, it’s not about getting anything back. It’s about making a difference. “People have asked me, ‘Well, what are your margins?’ I don’t work on margins,” says Bob. “We make money. We have great equipment. Everyone here is paid well. But at the end of the day, we’re not chasing the dollar—we’re chasing a satisfied customer.”