Pete Bolsoni, owner of Same Day Tees in Frankfort, Illinois, just south of Chicago, traces his love of screen printing back about 40 years. When one of his high school teachers suggested that he take up screen printing t-shirts as a way to ward off his boredom, he took a class at a local community college. Little did he know that this would be the start of Pete’s lifelong passion and future career.
Pete recently used his love of screen printing to make a difference in his community during what he described as a very dark time.
With creative help from Lon Winters of Graphic Elephants, Pete designed a special shirt emblazoned with the logo “We are all in this together – We Love our Helpers.” At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic he decided to give the shirts away with a letter of thanks to all the local emergency first responders, area hospital staff, bus drivers, parking lot attendants, grocery store workers and delivery drivers. He also sent a shirt to the Mayor of Chicago, Lori Lightfoot. She wrote him back a personal letter of appreciation.
“The shirts ended up being a huge morale booster in our shop,” Pete said. “Doing these shirts and getting the feedback from everyone we donated them to gave everyone at our shop a lot of hope and inspiration.”
Pete said it is his way of saying “thank you.”
“The really fun part is when I randomly hand out tees to the helpers at grocery stores, post offices and to delivery drivers,” he said. “And I’ll be doing that from the right social distance.”
What inspired him?
“Like everybody else, I was thinking about how I could show my appreciation to the folks who are out there helping while putting their lives at risk,” Pete said. “So, I started to design a t-shirt, but I knew that it had to be special. Whatever I did needed to be the best artistic and meaningful shirt I ever did in my career. I think I have done that.”
Another part of his inspiration includes a quote from the iconic Fred Rogers. On the back of the shirt he printed a quote from Mr. Rogers that says in part, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
In the end, Same Day Tees gave away more than 1,500 shirts to various groups and individuals with heartfelt thank you notes attached to each of them to show their gratitude for the hard work they are doing in his community.