WILMINGTON — Tom Shaw, a long-time Wilmington musician and graphic designer who screen-prints concert posters and artwork, evacuated to a friend’s family lake house in Charlottesville, Virginia during Hurricane Florence. As he waited out the storm, he had an idea.
“I’m sitting there watching the news and watching Wilmington getting beat to hell by the hurricane, and I had my computer with me,” Shaw said. “I knew I wanted to create some sort of graphic that could be, at the very least, shared on social media for inspiration.”
Inspired by the famous ‘I Love New York’ T-shirts, he came up with an illustration that incorporated ILM — the Wilmington International Airport code commonly used as a nickname for the city — with a sketch of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge inside a heart. After partnering with local artist Carleigh Sion and T-shirt printer Wahoo Screen Graphix, they printed a limited run of long-sleeve shirts that generated $3,000 in profit — split evenly with Nourish NC, Vigilant Hope, and Good Shepherd Center.
“So I have this graphic now, and I wanted to figure out how to continue using it for charitable causes,” Shaw said.
After touring Nourish NC’s building on Greenfield Street, Shaw reached out to its director, Steve McCrossan, with the idea of donating proceeds from a limited edition summer tank top emblazoned with the same logo. Made relatively cheap and priced at $22 (including shipping), they figured profits from each tank sold could provide five meals and five snacks to a child in need as the New Hanover County school season approached.
He again partnered with Wahoo Screen Graphix to print what he called a “timed edition” tank top. Orders of women’s tanks and men’s tanks can be made until 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, August 18, and customers can choose between seven colors ranging from ‘Flo Blue’ to ‘Seafoam.’
“At [that] point we will close the sales, tally up what we’ve got, and start printing,” Shaw said.
Shaw said he has sold 43 tanks as of Tuesday morning with the goal of selling 100 tanks by Sunday — a number that would generate 500 meals and 500 snacks. He expects deliveries to be made before August 30 so customers can “rock them on Labor Day Weekend if they want to.”
A portion of the profits will be used for advertising to increase sales.
“The slim profits beyond those five meals is getting pushed into our advertising budget, so the more shirts that sell, the more we can advertise, which will hopefully lead to more sales and more kids with full bellies,” Shaw said.
If all goes well, Shaw said he’ll consider another fundraising drive in the fall, this time selling lightweight hoodies made out of T-shirt material.
Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com or (970) 413-3815