T-shirts raise money for Kendall-Whittier
BY JASON ASHLEY WRIGHT World Scene Writer
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
9/28/10 at 6:23 AM
During the week, Charles Wood is a professor of marketing at the University of Tulsa.
On some weekends, however, he's a T-shirt salesman. During home games, Wood and other volunteers sell tees - not your typical school-spirit apparel, mind you. These were designed to give back to the community the campus anchors.
TU's motto of "wisdom, faith, service" is also the game plan for True Blue Neighbors, a comprehensive service initiative that began in 2009. It's a collaboration of partners dedicated to improve all aspects of community life in the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood, as well as the Tulsa community.
In case you need to picture the neighborhood's boundaries, Kendall-Whittier is bordered by 11th Street on the south, Harvard Avenue on the east, Utica Avenue on the west and the railroad on the north, explained Michael Mills, the associate dean of students and the coordinator of university and community engagement. It's an area with many needs, which were only exaggerated in the past year by economic woes. True Blue Neighbors was imperative.
Brandon Diles, an executive assistant in the executive vice president's office, said tht TU, like many universities throughout the country, is an anchor for the city, so giving back to its surrounding community is a duty.
"We don't realize how fortunate we are until we're involved in community work," he said. "But we're not doing it to give a handout; we're doing it to give a hand up."
Once the initiative was created, raising awareness about what it did was imperative. Wood heads Studio Blue, a relatively new student resource within the Collins College of Business. Noting that Notre Dame has had a long-running successful "The Shirt" project and has raised many thousands of dollars for area charities over the years, Studio Blue sponsored a logo design competition. Through that, the work of Meaghan Gideo, a local artist and TU alumnus, was chosen to grace a limited-edition T-shirt to be sold at TU's home football games as well as online (tulsaworld.com/truebluetshirt ).
Although a small portion will be used to create a student emergency fund, most proceeds from the shirts will support True Blue Neighbors projects, like weatherizing or rebuilding homes, getting supplies for the Kendall-Whittier youth mentoring program and donating to the neighborhood emergency food pantry.
Among the chief beneficiaries are of this initiative is Kendall-Whittier Inc., a nonprofit established in 1968 by a group of churches: College Hill Presbyterian, Grace Lutheran, St. Francis Xavier Catholic and University United Methodist. The organization's mission is to improve the quality of life for the individuals in the neighborhood - a mission that True Blue Neighbors mirrors.
"We couldn't do it without our volunteers," said Trinna Burrows, the executive director of True Blue Neighbors. In the 2007-08 fiscal year, Kendall-Whittier Inc. had 166 separate volunteers logging about 4,000 hours. The next fiscal year, that jumped to more than 900 volunteers and more than 9,000 hours.
"Most of this growth is attributed to the huge generosity of TU students, faculty and staff," Burrows said. "And their generosity could not have come at a better time, given the enormous challenges that face our neighbors during this economic crisis."
The school's initiative helps Kendall-Whittier Inc. with its after-school youth mentoring program, as well as an emergency food pantry, which benefits an average of 200 people each month in the community, Burrows said.
Mills said True Blue Neighbors put on a dinner for the community last spring. Students and staff members from TU joined neighborhood residents for a community meal at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School. Representatives of local social services agencies attended as well to provide information to families in need. True Blue Neighbors joined residents this month to do a "clean sweep" in the neighborhood, helping pick up trash and painting house numbers on curbs.
The public is invited to the "Beautiful Night in the Neighborhood" during 7-9 p.m. Saturday in the old No. 7 fire station at 601 S. Lewis Ave. Proceeds from the $75 tickets go toward helping Kendall-Whittier Inc. And you better believe True Blue Neighbors will be there.
"I can't say enough," Burrows said. "I'm just really touched by what they've done and what they're doing."
‘A BEAUTIFUL NIGHT
IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD’
What: Annual benefit for Kendall-
Whittier Inc., with wine, hors
d’oeuvres and music
When: 7-9 p.m. Saturday
Where: Howell & Vancuren, 601 S.
Tickets: Tickets $75 each. To reserve, or
for more information, call 743-9559.
To order a T-shirt, visit tulsaworld.com/truebluetshirt. And for more
about Kendall-Whittier Inc., visit
Original Print Headline: True Blue Spirit
Jason Ashley Wright 581-8483
Students wearing True Blue T-shirts cheer during a University of Tulsa football game. The True Blue Neighbors campaign, assisted by the university's Collins College of Business, is raising money for the Kendall-Whittier neighborhood by selling the T-shirts at each TU home game. TOM GILBERT /Tulsa World