"It made us really hopeful, and it makes you feel good (to see that) people care. Seeing the humanity during all of this is really heartwarming."

By Perri Ormont Blumberg
March 15, 2021
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Golden West Cafe Baltimore
Credit: Jenn Dibble

Earlier this month, we reported on Baltimore, Maryland, restaurateur John Minadakis, who helped raise nearly $500,000 for competitors struggling during the coronavirus pandemic (check out our video below). Now, we're back with more inspiring news from Charm City: Local restaurants and companies have banded together to donate 20,000 KN95 masks to city teachers as they prepare to return to their classrooms

As TODAY.com originally reported, the effort started after local teacher Laur Plawker expressed her concern over returning to in-person teaching to Golden West Cafe owner Samantha Claassen. Since the school district wasn't going to distribute the very effective KN95 masks en masse, Classen knew she wanted to do something to help. After their conversation in February (which took place before teachers were eligible for vaccination), Classen reached out to a handful of local restaurants to pitch in for a fundraiser. On February 22, the group of restaurants donated 20% of their sales to help teachers get these masks. Soon, local businesses like ACME Paper Company and Cintas, stepped up to make donations to the masks drive as well.

Ultimately, $4,000 was raised to buy masks, in addition to generous face mask donations made by several companies involved in the efforts. "We got so many masks. Initially, with (our goal of) 2,500 masks, we were like 'Oh, teachers can just come and pick them up from the restaurant whenever it's convenient for them,'" Claassen told TODAY. "But when we got up to 10,000 masks we were like, 'Oh, we need another arm involved to do this distribution.' So we asked the Baltimore Teachers Union to get involved, and they took on that challenge, and now they're distributing those masks."

In all some 20,000 KN95 masks and more than 11,000 blue surgical masks were delivered to Baltimore City Schools on March 8. That's quite the face mask fiesta for these deserving Baltimore teachers!

"We just have to stick together, and we saw a huge outpouring of support. 20,000 masks is wonderful," added Classen. "It made us really hopeful, and it makes you feel good (to see that) people care. Seeing the humanity during all of this is really heartwarming."

WATCH: Baltimore Restaurateur Has Raised Nearly $500,000 for Competitors Struggling Amid Coronavirus

We'd love to hear from you: What standout community service projects have you seen in your area amid the pandemic? During these dark times, the power of neighbors helping neighbors shines bright.