Although the brunt of Hurricane Sandy’s damage has fallen thousands of miles away on the East Coast, two UA students are working to provide financial relief to the area one T-shirt at a time.
The project, called UofAid, was organized in early November by Bill Distler, an elementary education senior, and Zachary Poll, a business management junior.
Brothers in the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, the pair started the initiative in order to support recovery in the wake of the disaster, which has indirectly affected students with families on the East Coast.
“I saw all the destruction … of the East Coast,” Distler said, “And knowing people from that region and how they were affected, I really wanted that region to be helped out.”
Distler added that his older brother, also a member of the same fraternity, was part of a similar relief effort in response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Distler said he wanted to do something along the same lines.
While the two knew that their chapter would do an effective job marketing the effort, Poll said they have been trying to branch out as much as possible to make it not seem too exclusive to the greek community, and have removed all greek affiliation from the project.
“At first we wanted to market it through us being Beta, and have it be a greek thing,” Poll said. “But then we came up with the idea that maybe we’re not going to sell that many shirts that way, and this really should be a whole U of A kind of thing.”
The shirts feature the project’s name across the chest and a graphic on the back of a map of the U.S., with first aid crosses in Arizona and along the East Coast to represent the outreach. The initial design was done by Brad Taylor, a junior studying nutritional sciences and chemistry.
The shirts are now being marketed through Facebook and on fliers, as well as through various clubs and organizations on campus, Distler said. They can also be viewed on TeeSpring.com, where people can reserve one for $15.
Distler and Poll’s goal is 237 shirt reservations by Thanksgiving Day, which would raise $1,000 after manufacturing costs and expenses for Tee Spring to make the shirts. If the goal isn’t met by Nov. 22, those who have reserved a shirt won’t be charged. Otherwise, the shirts will be distributed to buyers on the UA Mall or delivered to sororities and fraternities to hand out to members who have bought shirts. There are currently 42 shirts reserved, and 100 percent of the proceeds goes to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief.
Although Poll and Distler said that the project is limited to the hurricane relief effort, they have other humanitarian projects in mind for future semesters, but Hurricane Sandy was something they could relate to.
“There’s a lot of people here from the East Coast whose families have been devastated, so it definitely hits our friends and family,” Poll said. “Even though Arizona wasn’t affected, the fact that it impacted so many people that go here, we thought this would be a great thing to do for Arizona to show that we care even though we’re not directly impacted.”