In response to Hurricane Sandy — one of the worst storms to hit Connecticut in the past few decades — eight freshman launched a website, www.shirtsforsandy.com, that aims to sell t-shirts to benefit those affected by the storm.
The website, created by a group called Shirts for Sandy, offers t-shirts with a design that reads “stay afloat” for $14 and solicits donations of any amount. Frank Wu ’16, one of the founders of Shirts for Sandy, said the group has not yet decided to which charity it will donate the proceeds, but he said members are considering AmeriCares and Red Cross Disaster Relief. As of Tuesday night, the group had sold 26 t-shirts. Students interviewed said they appreciate the initiative to help victims of the hurricane but found that the website did not provide enough clarity and detail.
“I think I would like to know more about where the money will be going, what causes, in what ways will the money be used, what larger organization will they be using,” Yoonie Han ’15 said. “I just want more details.”
Wu said that though the website’s initial language explaining the group’s intentions for the t-shirt revenue was confusing, he edited the phrasing to say that donations after production costs will go to the relief effort. Each t-shirt costs the group $3 to make, so each purchase yields an $11 donation, said Hammaad Adam, a member of Shirts for Sandy. The group aims to sell anywhere from 500 to 1000 shirts or raise $10,000, Wu said, and members plan to set up a t-shirt stand on Cross Campus later this week.
Wu added that Shirts for Sandy hopes to partner with local businesses, including Tyco, Claire’s Corner Copia and Shake Shack, to cover production costs so 100 percent of the revenue can be funneled directly to a charity.
All students interviewed said Shirts for Sandy was the first relief-effort they had heard of on campus. Still, students said they were hesitant to donate until they learned more specific details about where the money will go.
“I would like the website to have more specificity as to which charities… the funds will be going to,” Jennifer Friedmann ’13 said, adding that she wished the website would explain Hurricane Sandy’s devastation and “why it is necessary to put forward a relief effort.” She said she found it frustrating to see the “flippant” reactions of Yale students to Sandy given that the hurricane had killed dozens of people in the Caribbean and in other parts of the U.S. East Coast, and she said she was pleased that a group of students recognized the severity of the storm.
Elliah Heifetz ’15 said he would be less inclined to purchase a t-shirt or donate to Shirts for Sandy until the group decided which charity it would partner with, but added that he thought the idea was “very cool.” Han said she thinks a group of “random freshmen” might have difficulty finding donors, adding that she would be more comfortable if the group affiliated itself with a more legitimate organization such as the YCC or Dwight Hall.
Suyash Bhagwati ’15 said he would be more likely to donate if the funds went to a “badly-hit part” of America such as New York rather than New England, which went relatively unscathed. The current website does not explicitly state the region where the funds will be used. He said he was still “unclear how much [he] was donating,” because the phrase “production costs” was vague.
Javan Oluoch ’16 said he thought the old language was “misleading” because he previously thought the entire $14 would go to charity, but said he was still buying a shirt because “it’s helping people.”
The shirts have no shipping costs for any address in North America.