A 12-year-old raises $2,500 for MSH’s COVID-19 Relief Fund with a t-shirt he designed
By Vawn Himmelsbach
Giving back to the community isn’t just for corporations — or grown-ups. Ethan Angelone was inspired to fundraise for MSH’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, raising close to $2,500 by designing and selling t-shirts.
Ethan is 12 years old, however that didn’t stop him from coming up with an idea, spreading the word about his fundraiser and even learning how to use a spreadsheet (with a little help from his parents, Sylvia and Julian).
“It was really fun, actually,” says Ethan. “I liked using the spreadsheet, I liked seeing how much people cared about the fundraiser and I liked going around to people’s houses and delivering the t-shirts. My teacher even ordered one.”
He came up with the idea to fundraise while his family was sitting around the dinner table, talking about how so many other families were struggling during the pandemic. Yet, Ethan and his two brothers were “eating like kings,” so he started to think about how he could make a difference.
Ethan’s first thought was a bake sale, “then I realized how messy it would get.” He landed on the idea of selling t-shirts and immediately set to designing a logo — a heart with a heartbeat running through it. “I wanted it to be for everybody,” he says, “so I drew a home [inside the heart], because everybody is staying home.”
The Angelones then contacted a family friend, Jim Paras from the T-Shirt Gang, who produced the Stay Safe Stay Home t-shirts at cost. Ethan decided that all money raised would go toward MSH’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. His dad Julian, a builder and founder of Angelone Homes, is an event sponsor and supporter of the MSH Foundation.
Marcus, Ethan and Alexander Angelone
Ethan and his brothers were all born at MSH and his family lives in the community, only five kilometres from the hospital. “We were talking to our children about how we wish we could help other people more during this time and thinking about who to donate to,” says Sylvia.
The family felt it was important to support a cause in their own community.
Julian and Sylvia promoted Ethan’s fundraiser on social media, and the MSH Foundation spread the word online. “We also started calling people [to tell them] that I was doing a fundraiser — my basketball team, my coaches,” says Ethan.
Sylvia helped Ethan set up a process to keep track of orders and payments. The t-shirt campaign ran over the first two weeks of May, and in total they sold about 170 t-shirts — raising close to $2,500.
“On the first day we had 30 to 40 orders. My mom and I were super excited because we did not expect that — there was email after email,” says Ethan. “I learned about how generous others can be when it comes to helping people.”
The family hand-delivered most of the t-shirts, in the late afternoons and evenings. “Ethan would do a curbside drop-off,” says Julian. It became part of their “COVID routine,” where they went for a drive, dropped off t-shirts and spread a little joy in their community.
“Our family had groceries and toilet paper,” says Julian. Not every family was so lucky at the height of the pandemic. “So this is a good lesson for our 12-year-old, and our eight- and six-year-olds as well,” he says. “They got involved with the process, too.” It also motivated some of Ethan’s friends to come up with their own fundraising initiatives.
Indeed, Ethan is one of many kids who reached out to MSH during the pandemic to give back in some way. Kids and schools wrote thank you messages to frontline workers and sent words of encouragement to patients. Some hosted fundraisers, and some donated (along with their families) personal protective equipment (PPE).
“No matter if it’s big or small, every dollar counts,” says Allan Bell, vice president of community relations and corporate partnerships with MSH Foundation. “Collectively through these community events last year we raised over $400,000. You start adding it up, and wow, it’s amazing.”
Fundraising inspires others to contribute, and when it begins at a young age, it often inspires a lifelong passion for helping others and giving back to the community. “We find that people who get involved in supporting organizations at a young age will continue to give back throughout their life,” says Allan.
Fundraisers also help to educate the community about why hospitals need to raise money in the first place. For example, government doesn’t fund the purchase of equipment, such as beds, CT scanners and ultrasound machines. And as MSH works to combat COVID-19, the community’s generosity helps equip the hospital with life-saving supplies.
Every gift inspires and empowers dedicated frontline staff, from financial contributions to donations of PPE and prepared meals and snacks — helping to flatten the curve and save lives.
Community events can be as simple as a bake sale or as intricate as a gala dinner. But due to COVID-19, many fundraising events had to be cancelled or postponed. In response, the community has come up with creative ideas to host virtual events or sales that abide by physical distancing guidelines. Or, in Ethan’s case, to sell custom-designed Stay Safe Stay Home t-shirts.