WEST ORANGE, NJ — After an extremely successful first wave of orders that brought in more than $20,000 for Mayor’s Sunshine Fund, the “Stronger Together” initiative in West Orange has been extended into an ongoing campaign with more colors being added to the mix of spirited clothing being sold daily to residents, alumni, business leaders and more.
Resident Perry Bashkoff, who has been among those spearheading the initiative, explained that 100 percent of the proceeds are going toward helping neighbors in need, including members of the West Orange High School (WOHS) Class of 2020, as proceeds recently helped cover the cost of yearbooks for local seniors.
“It's obvious that this virus situation is going to be with us for a while, so anything we can continue doing to support those in need makes a lot of sense right now,” said Bashkoff. “’Stronger Together' is a powerful message and just what was and is needed for our community as we watched the total number of confirmed cases grow and the promise of things like graduation, prom and sports seasons vanish because of the virus. Bringing the community together with something as simple as a T-shirt or hoodie seemed easy and meaningful.”
The campaign is the brainchild of WOHS head football coach Darnell Grant, who leveraged the graphic design skills of assistant football coach Andrew Mazurek to create the garments. The coaches then recruited Bashkoff to help with the implementation, and orders started flooding in shortly thereafter.
“We all decided that having 100 percent of the proceeds go to the Mayor's Sunshine Fund, given all that was happening with the virus, made absolutely the most sense,” said Bashkoff. “We added the WOHS Class of 2020 yearbooks once word came that school buildings would be closed for the remainer of the year.”
Regarding the recent success of the campaign, Bashkoff said the “Stronger Together” initiative provided a unique opportunity for community members to give back during the pandemic. By purchasing this gear, West Orange residents are not only creating a sense of community but also directly helping a neighbor in need.
“Everyone knew that they were helping neighbors in need during COVID-19 by donating to a trustworthy cause right here in their hometown and getting a token of appreciation that would bring the community together,” Bashkoff said of recent customers, including local dignitaries like Mayor Robert Parisi, Councilwoman Cindy Matute-Brown and West Orange Board of Education member Cheryl Merklinger as well as WOHS Principal Hayden Moore and several athletic coaches.
Bashkoff added that the “Stronger Together” initiative will be ongoing “until everyone who wants one has one.”
“They make perfect gifts, too,” he said, suggesting that residents consider purchasing the West Orange gear for an upcoming birthday or graduation. “We even sent an outreach to WOHS alumni for those interested.”
Depending on the timing of the campaign cycle, Bashkoff stated that orders typically ship within one to two weeks.
CLICK HERE to review the options and order “Stronger Together” West Orange gear.