“A Blank Shirt Turns into
a group planting trees. A blank shirt turns into a group starting a garden, or giving away food at a homeless shelter…
…that’s the idea behind Shirts For Good
and this is ShirtCitizens, that’s who we are”
Sitting in a shack with enough collected debris to make a roof, I swatted at the flies around me while watching the stray dog pass my feet. Sweat trickled down my forehead as the intensity of the sun seeped through the small openings above. The air in the Philippines was thick. I looked around at the group of women who beamed with pride as they attempted to use their broken English to tell us about their businesses. This was my first time meeting the group of women after granting them micro loans to start their own businesses. Many of them were seamstress or owned small shops to support their families and their village. To the eye, they had nothing. Yet they expressed to us that they had each other. Sitting in their makeshift shantytown, I began to cry. My own story had come full circle. Each woman reminded me of my mother. As a single mother, she sought out resources to support our family. And in darkness, we found light within each other that guided us through tough times.
Looking to escape their poverty, we drove into Metro Manila where the divergence between the rich and poor became transparent. We watched as people moved around the city in a New York minute. I became overwhelmed with guilt as we indulged in lunch. How could I enjoy eating after witnessing adults and children malnourished? I began to question why I was a fellow and why I was on the trip. Up until that point, I had managed to complain every chance I could get about my living. I had no cell phone service. We stayed in an orphanage and were given only a bucket and a bar of soap to wash with. There were no beds, but rather cots to sleep on. I had become sick from the food and was only able to stomach rice and bread. Ready to get back to the comfort of the states, I remembered my mother’s words as she drove me to the airport. She said “Asia, let this trip change you.” In that moment I made the decision to use the rest of the trip to learn more about myself and to focus more on my humility. My purpose was to be in that moment and to live in their story.
“We must do more...”
A conversation with an old friend along with input from ShirtCitizens’ vendors led the company to the realization that the company could do more than just print shirts. The Shirts for Good grant grew out of this desire to do more.
The grant is designed to help other Do Gooders do more in their communities by providing t-shirts and financial support. Shirts for Good grant winners organizations can focus more energy on what matters most: doing good in their communities.
The Shirts For Good Grant
ShirtCitizens plans to donate a total value of $14,000 to do gooders each year. That value consists of a mix of shirts and donations given each month.
Each month, Do Gooders are nominated. Three nominees are chosen and voted upon by their peers. Shirts for Good is a true exercise in community building, support, and doing good.