Despite a rocky start, a La Grande woman was able to collect $2,000 for the La Grande Swim Club and the Union County Food Bank.

Nicole Howard, who sits on the La Grande City Council, started with an idea to promote the eclipse with a T-shirt design and donating the proceeds to nonprofits.

“My first batch of shirts came in around May and I stood with my son for hours down on Adams, waiting for one to sell, but nothing happened,” Howard said. “Ditto the next week at the farmer’s market, where we met a lot of nice people but didn’t sell a shirt.”

Howard said she approached two businesses on Adams Avenue about selling the shirts: oudoors shop Blue Mountain Outfitters and kitchen boutique Bella’s. The respective owners, Jim Whitbeck and Beverly Calder, agreed to sell the T-shirts and give Howard 100 percent of the proceeds, she said.

“We frequently sell items for different organizations in the store at no cost to them,” Whitbeck said. “We basically offer them space to sell whatever they want as long as it fits in with our values. (Howard) had come up with the idea of the eclipse T-shirt and it was a great idea. It resonated with people.”

Calder could not be reached for comment by deadline.

Howard said with the stores’ help, she was able to sell $2,000 worth of T-shirts.

“It was an incredibly generous thing for (Whitbeck and Calder) to do, and it turned out really well,” Howard said.

The two nonprofit organizations received $1,000 each.

Audrey Smith, county manager for Community Connections, said every dollar they receive is equal to about 3 pounds of food.

“I appreciate that someone would do so much work for this,” Smith said. “We really appreciate any time the community can come and help support the food bank.”

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