By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter
While the boredom of COVID-19 lockdowns has led most young people to do nothing other than spend more time on the internet, some teenagers are doing much more productive things with their newfound, mandatory time away from friends. Take Needham’s Dana Freedman, for instance. In her spare time, she raised $650 for the Needham Community Council, and has now set her sights on raising money for Storytime Crafts. What spurred this desire? Dana knew there were people in need, and was already making art in her spare time.
“When the pandemic first started, I was making a lot of art because I was bored, and it was piling up,” she explained. “I noticed how my community was struggling and wanted to find a way to help. I had all this art so I was like 'why not try and sell it?' and see if I could help the community. I’m very fortunate myself, and the Needham Community Council helps people who are less fortunate than me, so I just thought it was a great organization to raise money for.”
Freedman had no set financial goal, instead opting to sell the art both online and at the Needham Farmer’s Market and see how much she could raise. While initially unsure of what kind of impact people’s COVID related financial issues would have on people’s willingness to buy art, she was surprised how generous people were with their money.
“I had no idea when I first started this if people would donate, because everybody was struggling. My first goal was $100, and then people kept donating and buying stuff, so I raised more than my initial goal. It was not a set goal. The donations kept coming, so it was great. Everyone in the community was so supportive and so wonderful.”
Freedman really has no margins; she donates the entirety of the money she makes (taking none for her time or materials), with her parents happy to buy her paint and her brother, who likes to do woodworking, often providing scrap pieces of wood for her to use. Despite this, the art is very cheap, with most pieces around the ten-dollar range. This is intentional, since it makes her work much harder to say no to.
“It’s kind of like a marketing strategy. Like, ten dollars. How could you say no to a kid who’s trying to help the community selling something that’s ten dollars? People would donate more, though. Some people donated $50, some forty, but it’s just like a suggested price. Most people can help in some way, and $10 is a good starting price.”
The money will go towards helping keep all the Needham Community Council's programs running - like the thrift store, ESL classes and all the other programs the organization runs to support the people of Needham in general. But not content with the money she raised for the Needham Community Council, Freedman has set her sights on raising money for Storytime Crafts. Noting how much founder Lisa Vergara made her want to do good for the community, the money she raises from her art will be used by Storytime Crafts to (according to Dana) “fund culturally diverse books, which is really important so that young kids growing up can see themselves represented in the environment they’re surrounded by, and in the books they’re reading.”
Freedman noted that she hasn’t been able to find another Farmer’s Market at which to sell her art, largely due to COVID but also because she’s under eighteen years old. She instead has to sell her works exclusively online. She has also recently opened up to custom works, should anyone want to spend a bit more money for personalized pieces.
When asked if she had a pitch to sell her art, while the art world is infamously self-promotional, Freedman provided a rather refreshing take: “I think it’s pretty cool stuff. It’s ten dollars and it’s helping a good cause, so why not buy it? You could give it to someone as a gift, you could make someone smile. I mean, why not?"
Dana Freedman's work can be found on Instagram (@craftsgonewilde).