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St. Louis spring break shirt raises money for those hit hardest during coronavirus pandemic

“I want to help as many people as I can.”

ST. LOUIS — Spring break is effectively canceled for students in St. Louis, but local writer and mom Kellie Lynch said that doesn’t mean you can’t have a little fun.

“I was thinking about all the people whose vacations had been ruined,” Lynch said. “My daughter’s stuck inside for spring break, too. It just kind of came together, and I thought, 'Oh yeah, Spring Break: Stay at Home.'"

She turned the thought into a t-shirt design, a lighthearted way of acknowledging and getting through the crummy circumstance. She’s selling the shirt in her online shop Unruly Cloth, a side project that serves as her creative outlet.

“I think we all need a little laugh right now,” she said. “It’s important we keep a sense of humor when things are rough. I’m glad to be spreading a little humor and especially glad to be helping support the local St. Louis community.”

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Her support goes beyond lightening the mood; she’s using proceeds from the shirt sales to buy gift cards from local businesses that are struggling to survive during the coronavirus pandemic. Lynch will then donate those gift cards to local charities.

She said it all just kind of clicked for her.

“You could help, you know, in two different ways: to give the business some immediate money to get by and then give [the gift cards] to people who really need the products. It’s all gonna be local. It’s very important to keep the money in our community.”

Lynch is focusing her support on local farmers and food producers, as well as St. Louis’ LGBTQ community.

“A lot of the donations will be going to that community because they are more at risk,” she said. “They are often food- and housing-insecure and need a little bit more help in times like this.”

Lynch had originally planned to sell the her spring break t-shirt through the end of March, but the demand has already blown past her expectations. In just a week, it’s become her best-selling shirt of all time and has raised more than $700. She even expanded into selling kids sizes because of customers’ requests.

She said, given the response, she’ll make the shirt available as long as people want it.

“I want to help as many people as I can.”

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