Teen designs, sells shirts to help homeless

Scott Swanson

Gavin Redick was having a little trouble getting to sleep one night when he suddenly got one of those light-bulb ideas: Create and sell a brand of T-shirts and, for each shirt purchased, give one to a needy youngster.

“I thought it would be cool to have kids who have money to buy cool clothes for themselves and for kids that need it,” he said. “Then they’d all be wearing the same cool brands.”

The concept is not original, he noted. The one-for-one movement, as it is known, has been gaining popularity, particularly among young people, with the rise of companies such as Toms Shoes, which provides a pair of shoes to a “child in need” every time a pair of its shoes are purchased. Toms is expanding into clothing and sunglasses as well, under the same premise.

Redick, 17, a junior at Sweet Home High School, said he and a friend, Gravy Gunselman, frequently shop at the Teen Challenge store in Lebanon.

“When I shop there, I talk to guys who are going through hard stuff,” he said. “They were on my mind.”

With help from his younger brother Gabe, 14, who is a skateboarder, he created the Skate Krate name developed a logo to put on the shirts with help from local designer Chris Pinto.

He said he was already interested in T-shirt design and had gotten some tips from Pinto in making gear for TodayIsNow, a local Christian band in which he plays bass guitar.

“He’s been teaching me loops and design principles,” Redick said.

He said he got the idea of creating a T-shirt because he’s attended the Christian summer music festival CreationFest and seen booths selling brands such as LETGOdwork and To Write Love On Her Arms, which donate their profits to provide help for youngsters experiencing depression or addiction.

Redick said it took him about two weeks to sell the first 54 orders he needed to get the first 108 shirts printed by the Sweet Home Junior High Art Club.

He sold more than 40 in the first week alone after he posted the design on ubershirt.com, a site that helps people design their own T-shirts, he said. Shirts cost $10 each.

“I made pre-order forms and took them to school and talked to all my teachers and friends,” he said. “They were all supportive. So far I’ve even had people who say they don’t wear skater clothes just donate money.”

He said things picked up after he got his first shirts made and wore one to school last week.

“Everybody saw it. I’d only talked to friends about it, but everybody else went, ‘Wait, what is this stuff?’ I have to get everybody taken care of.”

Redick said that, in addition to donating shirts to homeless teens at Sweet Home High School and through the Hope Center, he plans to start donating shirts to CASA, a non-profit organization that advocates for and assists abused and neglected children under the protection of the county Juvenile Court.

“There’s an endless number out there,” he said, adding that he is planning to do more “research” on ways to get shirts to needy kids.

He plans to sell shirts at concerts and, this summer, at skateparks around the area.

Gabe is a deejay and they hope to go to parks and set up a music booth and sell shirts to skaters, Redick said. He also plans to expand the line by next summer to include tank tops and sweatshirts.

“My friends like the style and they think the cause is sweet,” he said.

For more on Skate Krate, check out Facebook, call Redick at (541) 228-8121 or e-mail him at [email protected].