A sign of the times: Marshall raises money for medics



Alumnus Liam Marshall of Sea Girt giving his SGA speech in 2018.

Brigid McCarthy

CHS Class of 2019 alumnus Liam Marshall of Sea Girt has raised more than $30,000 for COVID-19 relief, and it all began with a neighbourhood jog.

“When I was on a run in my town, I saw a lawn sign that was actually thanking first responders,” Marshall said. “I thought I could make something similar, a lawn sign that could be distributed on a more mass scale, and then I would donate a portion of the profits to a local organization benefiting COVID-19 relief.”

Thank You Lawn Signs (TYLS), Marshall’s nonprofit organization borne of that very idea, has partnered with Feed the Front Line to provide food and supplies to medical workers at Jersey Shore Medical Center in Neptune. Marshall’s lawn signs cost $15 each, and a portion of those proceeds go directly to Feed the Front Line. 

“Feed the Front Line is a local charity, it’s actually run by one of my neighbours, Lillian Walsh, and then another woman in Spring Lake named Cheryl Lynch,” Marshall said. “I chose this organization because it’s very local and I knew Lillian personally… I thought it was a great cause.”

A rising sophomore at Georgetown University, he serves as the Director of Operations for Students of Georgetown, Inc., the largest student-run nonprofit organization in the world. TYLS, Marshall explained, is a way for him to utilize his entrepreneurial skills and free time to give back to the local community during the pandemic. While he was hoping to make an impact, he didn’t expect the major response he received. 

“It was pretty fast right from the jump. Five hundred signs in the first three days,” Marshall said.

The signs began to pop up everywhere in southern Monmouth County and eventually caught the attention of Star News Group and Governor Phil Murphy. Murphy mentioned TYLS in a state press conference, and thanked Marshall for his efforts. 

“I was really just so excited, like astonished, that [Murphy] mentioned us. I was really happy that he was recognizing our efforts,” he said. “That was the first time that I felt that I was really making an impact.”

The governor’s acclaim led Marshall to national recognition on Fox & Friends, a news feature talk show for which he gave a remote, live TV interview to a national audience.

“It was funny, it reminded me of some of the things I learned at Communications,” he said of his involvement with the television production process.

From there, TYLS went nationwide, spreading virally like the positive antithesis of the virus it aims to give relief for. Using his now-national recognition and his Georgetown connections, Marshall enlisted passionate volunteers from coast-to-coast to start chapters in their states and counties. So far, he’s raised around $30,000 dollars and sold around 3,200 signs in his flagship south Monmouth County chapter alone, but across the country more than 5,000 signs have been sold totaling more than $45,000 dollars. This number grows every day, with new chapters continuing to spring up all over.

“I thought it would be something local… but I was shocked at the response,” Marshall said. “I really didn’t expect this to take off the way it did… I would have been happy selling 150 signs, donating whatever, because whatever impact you can make is a good impact.”

Marshall is uncertain about the organization’s future. He hopes its mission eventually becomes obsolete and that the need for COVID-19 relief eventually diminishes. But he is “really happy” with what he accomplished.

“It’s just really exciting… I get to help out the community in a great way,” he said. “It’s been a really great experience so far and I hope to keep it going throughout the summer.”

Zoe Conner-Bennet contributed to this article.