Kaygee creates “805 strong” sweatshirts

In an effort to raise both money and awareness about the shooting and fire, Prarthana Kaygee ‘20 created and sold sweatshirts with an image of a tree and the phrase “805 Strong.”

“I decided to make the sweatshirts because I wanted to create a sense of community after everything that had happened in the last few weeks,” said Kaygee. “I realized that I couldn’t revive those who had lost their lives in the shooting or rebuild the houses that were burned, but I could help in other ways. I could spread awareness … I am so fortunate to be living in such a great community and the least I could do is help those in need.”

Utilizing a platform called Bonfire, which allows people to sell shirts, sweatshirts and more to raise money for a cause of their choice, Kaygee has raised more than $300, which she is donating to local artist Mohammad Reza Alinejad-Ali. Alinejad-Ali is building twelve totem pole statues, one for each of the victims, to memorialize their lives in a permanent installment in Thousand Oaks.

“The money was originally going to the VCCF Wildfire Relief Fund, but after seeing that there is an abundance of donations and help from others in the community, we were thinking about donating the money to Mohammad Reza,” said Kaygee. “The first $300 [is going] to the sculptures and the remaining we earn while the campaign is still going will go to the VCCF Wildfire Relief Fund.”

The art on the sweatshirt was made by Jake Dalonzo ‘18. He created the design, which says “TO Strong” with the T as a tree, with the intention of putting it on a shirt to raise money.

“I wanted to created an image that the entire community could unite around,” said Dalonzo. “Knowing how the community was hurting made me feel like I had to do something to help, so I created the logo to put on a shirt to raise money for the victims …  I just tried to create something to represent the strength of the community. That’s why I incorporated the tree into the word ‘strong’ because our city is very close knit and united.”

Kaygee was connected with Dalonzo by Lo Yarnall ‘18, who had friends who liked the artwork and thought it would work well for Kaygee’s sweatshirts.

“[Yarnall] told me that a lot of her friends liked that design and they recommended I used it,” said Kaygee. “I thought it would be nice to use something made by someone in our community rather than just a random design.”

Dalonzo was glad that he was able to use his artwork to help the community. He intended to put the artwork on a shirt when he made it, and working with Kaygee allowed him to do that.

“I’m proud of the artwork but I’m more proud of what it was used for,” said Dalonzo. “Knowing I helped to make a difference to help the victims of the Borderline tragedy makes me feel really good, and that’s why I made it in the first place.”

Kaygee has sold 77 sweatshirts to people in the community, and her campaign is still going. The sweatshirts cost $35 plus $3.99 shipping. They are shipped directly from the company to the purchaser.

“The day people received their sweatshirts, I saw people wearing [them] and [I saw] some more people the following week,” said Kaygee. “So it was really nice to see that people still care even though the incidents have passed.”

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