In the wake of the tragedy on Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, dozens of projects have been initiated to raise awareness for gun control and garner funds for the school and families of the victims. Of these initiatives, the Student Goverment Association’s “MSD Strong” apparel sale has received considerable attention and revenue for the school’s transition back to normalcy.
Customers are welcomed to their website with “thank you for the overwhelming love and support we have received after the tragic event that unfolded in our beloved home” written in the center of the home page.
The organization was successful almost overnight, reaching $175,000 in revenue in only one week. This number continues to rise as the sales spread from the Parkland area to the state, to the country and to all over the world. Items have been purchased from countries including Canada, Australia, Thailand, Sweden, Germany, Great Britain, Switzerland, Israel and France according to the SGA report.
“The project came to us when we wanted to create something to bring the whole student body together,” SGA President Sabrina Fernandez said. “We started with a website and then had enough donations to give the whole student body a shirt free of charge.”
According to Fernandez, they hardly had to do any advertising to get people to contribute to the fundraiser. A large audience of buyers came simply from word of mouth and social media.
On Feb. 25, the MSD SGA tweeted out “all of the proceeds will be going directly back to the students and teachers to help the healing and rebuilding process” with a link to the website. Ever since, word of the fundraiser has spread rapidly across the world.
“It makes me feel amazing to see the support coming from all around the world and to see all the students be able to receive a shirt free of charge,” Fernandez said.
On March 9, the entire student body came to school decked out in burgundy, repping the signature #MSDStrong shirt that had been given out for free to all students. The day exemplified the growing unity of the school as the community came together to show their Eagle pride.
“I’m so grateful for the way this community has come together. Seeing all my fellow classmates wearing our MSD Strong shirts made me prouder than I ever have been to be an Eagle,” senior Devon Weisenfeld said.
They sell two main items: a burgundy #MSDStrong T-shirt with an eagle on the back for $20 and the same design on a hoodie for $35. The website also gives the option for customers to add a donation of $10 to $5,000 along with their purchase.
After only a few weeks of sales, USA Today reached out to SGA advisor Danielle Driscoll to coordinate a feature for the initiative. The video displays the students busily packaging hundreds of T-shirts to be sent out to customers across the world. According to Driscoll, they never expected the sale to grow to this extent, but they are happily surprised. She believes that the most essential part of this project is the students feeling the love and support from such a wide audience rather than the monetary profits they are making.
“It’s very easy but very tedious — find the shirt sizes, stuff it in an envelope, put the receipt in, seal the envelope, place the label and on to the next one,” Fernandez said. “We assemble every box one-by-one with donated supplies from multiple businesses.”
The company hosting the sale, Weebly, generously decided to waive all the fees for the students’ e-store in an effort to help the school.
“As soon as we found out, we wanted to help them in every single way that we could,” Weebly CEO Dave Rusenko said in the USA Today video.
With the help of Weebly, USA Today and their SGA advisor, the SGA students have created a worldwide phenomenon resulting in massive financial contributions for MSD and support for the community.