Signs of hope pop up in Chicago area

Signs of hope are popping up in the Chicago area, literally, thanks to woodworker Tom Buhmann.

Weeks ago, the Wheaton man started hand-crafting decorative signs with the word "hope" painted over a heart, figuring maybe he'd sell a handful or two as the COVID-19 pandemic dragged on. Turns out, his simple message resonated throughout his neighborhood and beyond.

According to Buhmann, he's approaching the 1,000 mark for signs made with help from his kids, neighbors and hired help.

"We're going to do it as long as people want to order signs and as long as this crazy thing goes on because it's keeping us all busy, it's for a great cause, and it feels great when you wake up in the morning," he said.

That "great cause" is two-fold: Buhmann donates a portion of proceeds to the People's Resource Center, with more than $4,000 already donated to the organization's food pantry. Plus, he said he's been able to cover some costs for his business and pay some people to help with the project.

Buhmann's 20-year-old daughter, Grace Buhmann, said there's been another perk of the community project: "We're pretty close with all the neighbors now."

"It's a word that lightens your heart and it just makes me happy," said neighbor Tom Connolly.

"The entire feel of our neighborhood is different because of what he's doing," added neighbor Danielle Jostes.