A creative fundraising project makes social distancing fashionable while raising funds for pandemic needs.

Alese Pickering is making sure people get the message loud and clear about staying 6 feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — and the importance of supporting those in need during the pandemic.

She and her partner have created a T-shirt that screams: “KEEP YOUR SOCIAL DISTANCE.” The crew neck shirt comes in gray, red, gold and white and sells for $24.99 at bonfire.com. The proceeds benefit the Houston Food Bank and Houston Shift Meal, a new group that is working with Houston restaurants to make meals for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs.

Photos via Facebook and Instagram

As the art director for Rice Magazine, Pickering used her professional skills to design the shirt. “The letters are intentionally spaced out as a nod to the physical distance we are keeping,” she said. “We decided that the text should be big, bold and red — an emphatic command to stay back.”

Pickering said she got the idea in mid-March after the Houston Food Bank asked the public for donations to help feed people in quarantine. As of late April, 86 shirts have been sold. Most of the proceeds — $500 so far — have gone to the food bank. Sales have also generated $100 for Houston Shift Meal.

“We got the idea to make the T-shirts to provide a sense of levity and community around this shared experience,” she said.

“Tiny Acts of Kindness,” a project from Rice’s Office of Public Affairs, features stories about Rice Owls responding to the COVID-19 pandemic in kind, creative and effective ways. Read the Rice Magazine series here.

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