CommonThreadz Helping Orphans One Shirt at a Time

How many t-shirts in your closet are feeding malnourished children?

We found an innovated non-profit “retailer” that uses hip, contemporary eye-catching, attention-catching campaigns to raise awareness and funds for orphan children.

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CommonThreadz is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is working to build and fund sustainable projects that help save children living in extreme poverty in Africa and other developing nations. The charity has a series of socially conscious t-shirts with designs donated by talented artists from around the world that provide a school uniform to an orphan for each shirt sold.

CommonThreadz also organizes volunteer travel to Africa throughout the year for volunteers to deliver school uniforms, school supplies and food to children in need while also providing much needed assistance at schools and orphanages during the trip. Volunteers will be working on constructing a new orphanage and specific responsibilities will be arranged with each volunteer.

The trip is 11 days long including travel time (approx. 2 days) and volunteers will be staying in Mtunzini, KwaZulu-Natal South Africa in an Inn with AC, heat, TV, telephone and pool. Transportation will be provided within South Africa. 2 meals per day will be provided (breakfast and lunch. The trip is from June 13th to June 23rd 2009. The minimum age requirement is 13 years.

Volunteers will spend time feeding and playing with the orphans including art projects, soccer and more. In addition, they will visit with some of the orphan’s caretakers and other orphanages in the area. Finally, leisure activities include an optional day safari, beach excursions (Mtunzi, where volunteers will be staying is located near the beach), and other cultural activities.

Total program cost with meals (breakfast and lunch are provided, dinner can be purchased at local grocery store or restaurant) and accommodations is $2,750. Airfare is variable depending on departure point, but is estimated at $1,500, so the entire program fee with airfare is about $4,250. Participants can fundraise for the entire cost of the trip. Personal expenses include shopping, dinner, day trips and other excursions.

In addition, the company recently launched The “Orphan Collection,” a series of t-shirts that are designed by orphans. The Orphan Collection t-shirts are all limited editions, printed with eco-friendly water-based inks, created by orphans in Obanjenie, South Africa, where CommonThreadz is working to rebuild the primary school and feed and care for the vulnerable children in the area. In addition to each shirt feeding an orphan in Africa for one month, each orphan artist receives clothing, a new school uniform, school supplies, a backpack, and meals for the school year.

The fact that the orphans are participating in the process to help rebuild their lives and community is something that Zac Folk, founder of CommonThreadz, finds particularly inspiring, stating: “The Orphan Collection is a true win-win. The orphans have a great time with the art projects and receive the benefits from their creative work, while our supporters pick up a hip limited-edition t-shirt that feeds an orphan for a month.”

Another innovative component of the Orphan Collection is that each t-shirt includes a tag with the name of an orphan that CommonThreadz is able to feed for a month because of the purchase and a special code that allows the customer to view & interact with that child’s online profile, complete with continually updated photos, videos, and status reports. As a gesture to thank their supporters, anyone who purchases a t-shirt gets their name placed on the CommonThreadz Honor Wall in Africa where they help to feed the orphans.

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