Simple T-shirt idea has raised $42G for Japan

Willows school teaching assistant Jackie Dogue shows off her Japan relief fundraiser T-shirt design with students Samantha McKinlay

Willows school teaching assistant Jackie Dogue shows off her Japan relief fundraiser T-shirt design with students Samantha McKinlay

She doesn’t have an artistic bone in her body. But after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Jackie Dogue wanted to help somehow.

A teaching assistant at Willows elementary, she thought up the idea of selling T-shirts as a way to raise relief funds.

“I knew I wanted the ‘O’ in “Support” to be red for the Japanese flag,” she said of the rough design she drew.

She also knew there should be a sentence in Japanese. “I wanted the Japanese community to know we were thinking of them.”

She phoned Marc and Midori Bolli, whose daughter is in Grade 1 at Willows. The couple own Megascreen Productions in Victoria. Dogue forwarded her rough drawing and asked if it was feasible to have some T-shirts made up.

“I waited another day and she sent me an email and said ‘Jackie, we started printing,” Dogue recalled. Under the words “Support Japan 2011” on the T-shirt design, Midori added in Japanese the words “Never give up Japan.”

In the past two months more than 6,000 shirts, from kids’ to adult sizes, have been sold for $10 each around Greater Victoria, raising more than $42,000. Willows school alone sold 400 shirts. Seventy per cent of funds raised were sent to the Japanese Red Cross. The other 30 per cent went to production costs.

So far Canadians have sent $5 million to Japan through the Canadian Red Cross.

“The current phase in the relief efforts is still very much on providing for basic needs,” said Red Cross spokesperson Bas Brusche.

“They have all these people in emergency shelters who still need to be fed and taken care of. However, more and more people are being helped with transitional housing with money to buy things themselves, to pay for their bills, etc. So there is a gradual shift to more long-term assistance, but the majority of funding still is going to these very basic necessities like food, medical equipment and blankets.”

Canadian Red Cross initially sent one representative to Japan to ensure the transfer of funds went smoothly. They now have a ground team there to help with relief efforts. Donations can still be made online at or in person at the Victoria branch, 909 Fairfield Rd.

T-shirts can be purchased through or at a Japanese children’s festival tomorrow (May 7) at University Heights Mall at McKenzie Avenue and Shelbourne Street from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.



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