The Wild Fire Tees team hoped they wouldn't need to reconvene, but given the Black Forest Fire, they found themselves needing to mobilize again.
Formed by a collective of local designers, WFT emerged just days after the Waldo Canyon Fire as a way to show community support and raise money for the victims: 100 percent of all proceeds benefited help organizations like Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado. This year the recipient is the Pikes Peak Community Foundation Emergency Relief Fund.
Co-founder Sara DeRose points out that WFT never really went away, it just lived on the back burner during the off-season.
“We kind of just kept things going in the background because we thought we might be needed again," she says. "We hoped we wouldn’t be. But we know that recovering from a fire is kind of a long journey and a lot of times there’s a lot of help right up front and then there’s nothing. There’s a couple months of people really wanting to help and then after that, we kind of all go back to normal.”
Which meant the system was already in place when smoke first emerged from Black Forest. The team had already planned on releasing a one-year-anniversary redux of the C-Fire shirt (pictured), but decided to release it early, tweaked to signal the dark trees of the new disaster.
In addition, they re-released certain designs from last year, redesigned a few others and are now offering a zip-up hoodie and children's sizes. When containment reaches 100 percent, they'll release another 2012 design, which you can vote for on their Facebook page. The C-Fire shirt continues to be the most popular. DeRose says over half of all the shirts sold are this design.
“The firefighters really responded to it, [and] people really responded to it as this kind of emblem.”
As before, they're also donating shirts to first responders. This time around first two went to Sheriff Terry Maketa and Incident Commander Rich Harvey. Right now, about 215 people have donated shirts (which WFT sets up so the $20 price of the shirt still goes to charity).
Though the numbers are growing every day, DeRose says that between the two fires, WFT has raised about $375,000, and tomorrow at 2 p.m., they'll present the first chunk of funds, $75,000, to the PPCF in a public ceremony.
“We like those big checks, you know?” DeRose laughs, referring to the physical size of the check. WFT will also be present at the Colorado Springs Together anniversary event June 26 in Mountain Shadows Park.
WFT was inspired by a similar effort following the Balstrop Fire in central Texas, and has since inspired another movement, Tornado Tees, which raises money for victims of the May 2013 twisters there. After Hurricane Sandy, WFT sent $3,000 to a Red Hook neighborhood initiative when one designer, moved by the devastation of the storm, pitched a shirt.
But WFT has no plans of going big, or moving anywhere. DeRose is happy to let other like-minded groups pick their collective brain, but here is where they're hearts are. That means they'll be standing by in the future too, ready to help if needed.
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