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Online-designed T-shirts boost charitable causes

NASHVILLE (BP) — When she discovered her cousin Melanie had cancer, Kristi Parker wanted to help.

Using a new service named LifeWay Shares, Parker raised more than $1,700 to provide financial assistance — all by selling T-shirts online.

Melanie’s husband designed a butterfly for the T-shirt and they selected a favorite Bible verse. Through selling the shirts, Parker helped Melanie and her family with medical bills and other costs.

“It’s a great program,” Parker said, “and a true blessing to my cousin during her fight with breast cancer.”

Those are the type of stories that drive Cathy Brown and others working on LifeWay Shares, a funding program from LifeWay Christian Resources. “It is an amazing feeling to offer a service that brings someone to tears because they were able to help their cousin with cancer,” Brown said.

In addition to campaigns to assist with medical costs, Brown said other individuals and groups have used LifeWay Shares to help with mission trips, adoptions, the purchasing of a church bus and building projects. Ministries also are using it to benefit women released from jail who are looking for jobs and to provide aid to refugees seeking an escape from ISIS in the Middle East.

As manager of LifeWay Shares, Brown said the service uses custom-designed T-shirts to garner both donations and attention to a cause. She said the only thing fundraisers need to do is promote their individual online site where supporters can purchase the shirts.

A commercial for sports fundraising sparked the idea for Brown. “It began as we were looking for new ways to help ministries and churches,” she said. After discussing the T-shirt idea with a screen printer, they were able to launch LifeWay Shares.

Those raising funds have no out-of-pocket costs. They can customize their T-shirt by choosing from LifeWay Share’s design collection or by uploading their own art. A website is created for each T-shirt with Facebook ads sent to help publicize the event. Anyone can go to the site, buy a shirt and have it mailed directly to their home.

At the end of the campaign, the fundraiser is mailed a check for the difference between the total amount raised and the minimal cost for each T-shirt.

While Brown is pleased with those features, the causes they have been able to help are the greatest part of the experience, she said, noting, “We are able to impact communities through these sites.”

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