Locals put T-shirt slogan to work

Published 3:06 am Friday, October 27, 2017

Abby Carter and Chrissi Sasser, both of Andalusia, co-own a T-shirt company called Betty Brand Tee Co.

Carter was a math lecturer at Troy University when she first met Jonathan Valdez and Carla Casillas, who are now married.

The two had taken her class, and Carter never lost contact with the pair.

Casillas teaches at Pike Liberal Arts School and Valdez is a baseball coach at Ariton High School.

“When the first hurricane hit, which was Harvey in Texas, we’d already decided we wanted to design a T-shirt and use the profits of the T-shirt to aid in relief,” Carter said, “When Maria hit Puerto Rico, I’d learned that Valdez’s brother’s family had lost everything.”

Carter knew then that that’s where she wanted the money to go.

Carter sent $700 to the Valdez family several weeks ago, enabling them to buy a generator.

“I wanted to be sure my money was really helping someone,” Carter explained, “I wanted to make it personal.”

More than a month after Hurricane Maria tore the island apart, most of the residents are still without power.

Puerto Ricans still suffer in heat, use ice chests to store perishables, and wait hours in line for gas.

Simple things like purified water are hard to come by, people gather water from ditches and boil it to rid it of bacteria.

Getting help out to the island is even harder. Supplies and people who are willing to help must travel through ports and airports that are overwhelmed by all the aid deliveries.

Puerto Rico’s power grid was neglected to save money in previous years, and will be difficult to repair.

“This is all old news to everyone who isn’t living it,” Carter said, “But it’s so very real for the people of Puerto Rico.”

Carter is still raising money with her T-shirts, hoping to raise at least $1,000 to send to the Valdez family.

“People often fear failure, but my fear is doing nothing when so many need help,” Carter said.

Carter’s “Be Good, Do Good,” T-shirts can be bought from Confetti Crate in downtown Troy, or online at bettybrandteeco.com. The shirts are $20, and $15 of each sale goes towards supporting the Valdez family.