Westporter's T-shirt sales to aid Midwest disaster victims
Published 4:21 pm, Thursday, July 21, 2011
A local businessman has launched a drive to raise money for victims of disasters in Missouri and North Dakota by selling patriotic T-shirts in Westport.
Steve Crowley plans to sell "America Lends A Hand" T-shirts on Main Street each Saturday, with proceeds going to relief efforts in areas devastated by a tornado and floods, a spokeswoman said.
The shirts sell for $20 and have an image of a giant Uncle Sam standing shin-deep in a swollen river, a family held in the palm his hand as a tornado sweeps past. Under the image are the words "American Lends a Hand."
A tornado on May 22 killed more than 135 people in Joplin, Mo., and caused massive devastation, including destruction of a hospital and high school. An estimated 2,500 buildings were destroyed and 10,000 were damaged, according to CNN.
Floods that ravaged several areas of North Dakota in late June caused an estimated $1 billion in damage. In the Minot area alone, more than 11,000 people were forced from their homes and animals were evacuated from a zoo when the Souris River spilled over its banks.
Hillary Burke, a spokeswoman for the drive, said Crowley -- the proprietor of SCA Commercial Real Estate -- has no connection to the Midwest states. But he saw reports of the devastation and wanted to help. He paid for the T-shirts and printing, she said, so the full $20 from each sale is targeted for relief efforts.
"He just saw people in need and wanted to raise awareness to all, to reach out and help others in need," she said in an email.
Crowley's family and friends are helping him in the campaign.
In addition to selling the colorful T-shirts on Main Street, the drive has established a web site -- www.americalendsahand.us/ -- where shirts can be ordered online.
According to the website, early fundraising efforts are focused on helping the St. John's Medical Center in Joplin. The hospital was destroyed when struck by the tornado, which packed 200 mph winds, according to news reports. More than 180 patients were evacuated.
A spokeswoman for the hospital on Wednesday confirmed it is expecting donations from the Westport T-shirt drive.
Shirts have been sent to the mayors of Joplin and Minot, Burke said, along with information "letting them know that others are aware of their devastation and (that) we are helping raise funds for the victims."
The sale will continue indefinitely, according to the website.