Zoe Spadaro, 13, f Wooodberry, sports a Fanstache as a sign of… (Photo by Karen Jackson )
When a group of Woodberry neighbors began selling fake, purple, Joe Flacco-style mustaches for $5 apiece during the Baltimore Ravens' all-too-brief playoff run, it was always their intention to donate a percentage of their profits to one of the quarterback's favorite charities, the Living Classrooms Foundation.
On Friday, they made good on their promise, presenting foundation officials with a check for $10,742 at Living Classrooms' Fells Point campus, about 20 percent of their earnings.
The neighbors, Nick Schauman, Josh and Valerie Griffin and Jason Daly, handed the check directly to sixth graders Tyshay Rigby, of Remington, and Ty'jaih Gill, of east Baltimore. They are students at the Crossroads School, a charter school that is operated by Living Classrooms, and were among several students chosen to participate in a brief ceremony at the school, overlooking the docked boats in Harbor East.
The girls' eyes widened as they read the check amount.
The money may have seemed like a drop in the bucket for a foundation with an annual budget of $15 million and 300 employees, which operates 35 schools and other educational programs serving 40,000 mostly inner city children and young adults in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.
But James Bond, president and chief executive officer of the Living Classrooms Foundation, was inspired.
"This will help a lot," Bond said. "Every nickel is critical to our mission."
For Schauman, it was a fitting ending — at least for now — for a business that started as a spur-of-the-moment idea while he and the other Woodberry residents were gathered around the Griffins' TV, watching the Ravens as they do most Sundays during football season.
Inspired by Flacco's decision to grow a Fu Manchu mustache, they pooled $4,000 to $5,000 of their own money, started a website, and began making and selling "Fanstaches," fake felt mustaches with an adhesive backing. For a few heady weeks, they were local media stars.
But the playoff run ended when the Ravens had their wings clipped by the New England Patriots on Jan. 22.
"What was most important to us was that we set a goal of $10,000 for Living Classrooms and we met it, with a little extra to boot," Schauman said.
The Ravens may have lost, but Living Classrooms won big as the north Baltimore neighbors earmarked $1 of each Fanstache sale to Living Classrooms, a nonprofit that gives youths hands-on education and job training, using maritime resources as "living classrooms."
For the Ravens, it's wait until next year. But for the residents, it may become an ongoing business enterprise. They're considering selling mustaches throughout the year for other teams in other sports.
"We're working on some business plans and we'll see where it goes," Schauman said.
If nothing else comes of it, he said, "It was a lot of fun. And it was a great cause."