I snapped this photo from my bed, my legs laptop-hot, at 1:31 PM on Wednesday, September 2nd. I'd just finished an especially energetic commenting session on several posts in the "SUNY Oneonta Parent to Parent" FB group. We'd all learned two nights prior that SUNY Oneonta's campus was, just a week after move-in, enforcing a "two week pause" -- moving all instruction online, delivering meals to dorm rooms, and isolating and quarantining students as COVID-19 spread rampant through the college and town.
My kiddo, a freshman pursuing a fine arts degree, had made the difficult decision to move to campus despite fears for his health -- he'd hoped for in-person access to studio time, tech, and materials we might not be able to provide at home. Instead, he was suddenly stuck in his dorm room, and anxiously alone, missing the roommate he'd only met online but was ready to meet IRL. He decided last minute to stay home for fall classes.
I was flustered. I startled every time he texted or called (which is to say, many MANY times), bracing myself for the results of his coronavirus test from that weekend and trying (and failing) to imagine TWO best case scenarios for positive and negative news.
Earlier that Wednesday, another parent posted a meme of inevitable word play that tickled more than a few of us: Within a few hours, the "CORONEONTA" T-shirt was born. Channeling my nervous energy into an art project is a common coping mechanism of mine (see MULTIRACHEL LLC); I created, cut, and pressed the first design onto one of the cotton blanks I had in stock in my basement workshop. By 5 PM I'd taken a selfie of myself wearing it and added it, jokingly, to the comments. Later that day, I was taking orders...and a fundraiser was born.
That evening, out of a desire to offer an alternative design for sale -- one focused on unity and positivity -- I stayed awake and conceived the "ONE LOVE" design. Both began to sell steadily on September 3rd.
[My son, who thankfully tested negative three times, has rejoined us at home until he can return to campus. He can't wait to find his place among the students and the community at large. Oneonta is an absolutely beautiful place; so pastoral and inspirational for an art student with big dreams.]
But back to the shirts: In collaboration with the FB group's administrator, I promised to donate 20% of the profits of both shirts' sales (plus a cotton face mask I quickly added to the product line up) through the first 7 days to the Otsego Chamber of Commerce. Details of her GoFundMe and awesome in-person cookie and gift delivery to local Oneonta businesses is in news stories and social posts across the web.
Later today, I will present my tally and an additional gift to the Chamber's spokesperson, and will notify my customers, fellow Oneonta parents, and the public at large. I'm very excited at the generosity and support that so many of you have already shown. Sales have been impressive, with demand far exceeding my expectation -- which was, honestly, that I'd make one shirt for myself(!). More than 100 shirts later, I've since added one more option, a white print on a red Champion® hoodie. Order fulfillment is challenging but incredibly rewarding, and as far as I can tell, I'm shipping faster than Amazon Prime on average. :-) PLUS we're supporting the US Postal Service (exclusively) at a particularly crucial time in our nation's history.
I cannot begin to express how privileged I feel to have captured a poignant and historical moment in a visual way that has touched so many of you. I hope you will continue to reach out to me as requests for new products and questions about future donations arise.
I will also be posting another important update by the end of this month, as 20% of ALL profits from SHOPONE.LOVE products will benefit either the Otsego Chamber of Commerce's "Survive and Thrive" initiative (for Oneonta-specific items) or a 501(c)3, to be announced by the month's end, that helps the children in America who currently need it most. That is a pledge for the lifetime of this retail effort. Together, I honestly believe we can both groan through this time of crisis AND grow in unity and love.
I'll be in touch.