ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - What started as an idea to raise money and support after the Boston Marathon bombings, has become not only a common catch phrase, but a fashion statement.
Two college students in Boston decided to raise money by selling t-shirts with proceeds going to help the bombing victims. But as 5 on Your Side's Mike Rush found out, all t-shirts are not created equal.
As the marathon bombings unfolded on television, Emerson University students were placed on lockdown. With time on their hands, students Chris Dobins and Nick Reynolds wanted to come up with a way that the average college student could help.
"Something that could be affordable and that would benefit those affected," said Dobins. "So I looked at Nick and I was like why don't we make a t-shirt."
Just like that "Boston Strong" was born.
"We were thinking along the lines of live strong, army strong, you know, it's that sort of phrase and we decided that that would be a simply effective mantra for Boston coming back and rising up," said Reynolds.
It's just a blue t-shirt with the words "Boston Strong" on the front, nothing on the back, simple, but effective. In fact, so effective that in just under three weeks, they've sold 50,000 t-shirts and raised more than $760,000 dollars for one fund that benefits boston bombing victims and their families. Unfortunately, the buck doesn't stop there.
Tracy Hardgrove with the St. Louis Better Business Bureau says this kind of thing happens when there is a catastrophe of any kind. They're so-called charity copycats. In this case, t-shirts with the same wording, but whose proceeds may not support the same charity, or any charity for that matter.
"Our first instinct was to get defensive and be like hey that's our thing, but we realize "Boston Strong" doesn't belong to a single entity, it shouldn't, it really belongs to the community, " said Reynolds.
"5 On Your Side" Googled "boston strong t-shirts" and found t-shirts with same mantra in every size, shape and color. Some make a donation to charity, and some don't.
"You want to look at the merchandise see if there's anything on there that tells you that it's going to the One Fund and what percentage of it is going to the fund or take the time to check out their website or ask the merchant directly," said Hardgrove.
"The 'Boston Strong' team is not profitting off of this and it does make us sad to see other people trying to profit off a national tragedy," said Reynolds.
Chris and Nick's shirt costs $20 online. Five dollars of that money goes to production costs, the other $15 to the One Fund.
"Really the best thing people can do, is research, if they find us, share it with people who really want to get involved because that's the way the good word is going to spread," said Dobins.
You can check out a charity with the St. Louis Better Business Bureau. Chris and Nick plan to sell their "Boston Strong" t-shirts for another week. They're hoping to raise $1 million for the One Fund before their done.