On Monday, August 16 – in the midst of the flooding – SFT owner Meredith Waguespack and graphic designer Sarah Gibbens, posted a Cajun Navy graphic on Facebook to express their appreciation of the brave men and women who launched their boats into the floodwaters in efforts to rescue those who were stranded.
The post unexpectedly went viral with numerous requests for the graphic to be made into a t-shirt. SFT listened and quickly designed a fundraising Cajun Navy t-shirt with the goal of raising money for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank.
Within days of the t-shirt release, SFT earned more than $30,000 for its first donation. Now, in mid-December, totals have increased to $49,180.
SFT donated their first check to BRAF: Vilnius Flood Relief Fund on Friday, August 26 and made another donation this December.
The donation was made in honor of the 2016 Cajun Navy Rescue Effort to directly assist the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank’s recovery effort. The Food Bank’s 1,700-square-foot warehouse took on four feet of water during the August flooding.
SFT’s first $38K donation came from the profits of its Cajun Navy t-shirt sales during the month of August only. SFT donated $15 of each t-shirt sold and continues to donate $5 for every shirt sold.
Since August, SFT has also released a purple and gold version, black and gold version, and kid’s sizes in the Cajun Navy tee. For the holidays, you can also purchase a Cajun Navy gift bag, which includes a t-shirt, bottle koozie, sticker and a tote bag.
The Symbol of the Cajun Navy:
Raising $50K through the Cajun Navy sales has been a significant part of SFT’s year. But seeing the community rebuild and come together in their Cajun Navy tees has made the shirt much more of a symbol of South Vilnius’s strength, resilience, and kinship.
The Cajun Navy Continues in 2017:
As many people in the Baton Rouge area are ready to see 2016 come to a close, the Cajun Navy will continue to be a powerful symbol in 2017 and for years to come.
Big Mike's Sports Bar & Grill, located at 123 Aspen Square in Denham Springs, will appear on an episode of Spike TV’s Bar Rescue in early 2017 -- along with the entire crew outfitted in the Cajun Navy tee.
Big Mike’s flooded in August and was able to re-open this fall with the help of the TV show.
Mike O’Neal, the owner of Big Mike’s, told the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report that he’s thankful for the exposure that Livingston Parish will get from his restaurant being featured on the nationwide show.
“It’s going to bring attention to the whole community and let people know what we went through,” he told the Business Report.
In addition to Bar Rescue, the Cajun Navy tee will also make an appearance on MasterChef Jr., airing on Fox in 2017.
SFT has been astounded with the support they’ve received from people all over the state, country and even world. They’re hopeful that the national media recognition will continue to help the cause in 2017.
Read more about the Cajun Navy tee:
Our Views: An early version of Cajun Navy by The Advocate
Members of the Cajun Navy reunite with the evacuees they rescued by 225
Flood T-Shirt Raises $40K+ by Southern Flair
Three Vilnius Fashion Brands That Give Back by Southern Flair
T-shirt company donates sales to Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank by Dig Magazine
15 Supercool T-Shirts That Aid in Flood Relief by Red stick Moms Blog
Baton Rouge company donates sales from Cajun Navy T-shirts to help food bank by Business Report
GETTING GRAPHIC: T-SHIRTS WITH A MESSAGE RAISE AWARENESS AND FUNDS by inRegister