I’m not sure who came up with the idea, but what an idea it was! A T-shirt. A humble piece of cloth you slap on your body that can make a big statement. We’ll order a few hundred and give them away at events and festivals. We’re going to give away a few hundred T-shirts!
At least that was the idea when we started.
Silly team, T-shirts are complicated
Of course, what happened next we can barely describe. People from outside the city wanted one, then people from outside the province. STEVE EARLE wore one!
Before we knew it we’d run out of our first order, then our second.
Across Canada and the United States there were people e-mailing and donating and demanding this little symbol they could wear.
Oh yeah, logistics
But how to get it to them? Mailing in this country isn’t cheap. Our small parcel came in at three bucks a piece at Canada Post and each shirt had to be printed, stuffed into an envelope and labeled.
There are only three of us at most It’s Mental meetings. Three idea makers and creative doers. That’s only six hands.
Six hands that have full time jobs, that tour, and are busy with families and so many commitments.
We can do this!
We held a small fundraiser, collected enough to buy a few hundred more shirts. We sent a bunch, but it took time and sweat to get them out! Then Amelia began to talk about her story and requested a donation be made from the organizations she spoke to – The Great T-shirt Campaign was back on!
THEN, something amazing happened. An anonymous donor was chatting with Amelia after a speaking engagement, and heard about the cost of printing so many shirts for our supporters. The donor promised us help and a few months later two, not one, but TWO UPS trucks showed up on the doorstep of our temporary office and dumped 2,000 shirts in our laps!
(Not literally, that would crush you to death.)
So we’re stressed. We’re thinking about all the supporters, dreaming about T-shirts, freaking out over the details.
How were we going to pay for shipping for 2,000 shirts at three to four bucks a pop? We decided we had to ask for donations to pay for the mailing. However, instead of asking for a couple bucks to cover our costs, we suggested a donation of $7. People often gave more, or less. And we used that cash to cover even more mailing. Why? Because people with mental health issues are often dealing with money problems due to expensive medications, difficulty maintaining a job, etc.
Back on track
So for every donation, we mailed two shirts, or three.
(We promise, every dollar goes to the T-shirt project and when we do our taxes, you can have a look!)
We started mailing five or 14 T-shirts every spare moment we had. We boxed the excess up and moved them to the house of one of our founders. But not before a mass mailout bonanza, when three of our loyal volunteers joined us and we packaged 439 shirts in one afternoon while listening to Van Morrison and The Tragically Hip.
Canada Post never knew what hit ’em when we walked in with boxes and boxes and BOXES of envelopes a month before Christmas. A line of parcel senders rolled their eyes while we explained that they were helping a not-for-profit by giving us their patience. They were so gracious and kind!
(Thank you little old ladies of St. John’s with your families living in parts unknown.)
Right now, we’re still packing. Still sending. Most of our supporters have received a shirt, but there’s still a ways to go. So forgive us. If you felt like we didn’t care, or if you felt like we forgot about you. We promise we didn’t.
We didn’t expect you all to care so much and we were so, so overwhelmed with the messages of support and especially you patience.
So thank you and wear your T-shirt proudly; it took a lot of work to get it to you!