We call them Shirts

You know them. You love them. You’ve supported them.

Since 2015, Shirts (our fandom nickname for the awesome human behind Stands) has been working their seams off putting together campaign after campaign, from You Are Not Alone with Jensen Ackles and Misha Collins to set up the IMAlive network, to the record-breaking SPN Family Love campaign with Jensen, Misha and Jared Padalecki to spread some holiday cheer to families and charities in need, to the THREE successful Wayward campaigns (Wayward Daughters, WaywardAF, and WayStrong) with Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster to help with Dreams2Acts and New Leash on Life USA, to Ruth Connell’s coven couture #Slay campaign for My Hope Chest, to Rob Benedict’s kickin’ Rock God campaign for the National Stroke Association, to Osric Chau’s ridiculously cute On the Hunt campaign for Random Acts, to Jim Beaver’s hilariously charming Balls campaign for Rainbow House, to Rachel Miner’s sweet (and Megstiel-feels-filled) Be the Clarence campaign for Earth Justice, to the cross-fandom Indivisible campaign supporting Puerto Rico’s recovery from Hurricane Maria to Misha’s heartwarming I Wish For This campaign for Lydia Place, and to recently Samantha Smith’s phoenix-from-the-ashes Rise campaign for the Chicago Foundation for Women and Jason Manns’ Recovering with Friends campaign benefiting the Jacmel Children’s Center in Haiti.

This is not even counting the campaigns Stands has done with the cast of Once Upon A Time or the non-cast-sponsored ones like the popular Supernatural-esque travel mugs. (Or even the campaigns Jared, Mark Sheppard, Mark Pellegrino, David Haydn-Jones, and others have done through Represent, a similar company that does charity campaigns as well or campaigns like SPN Sign Language helmed by Shoshannah Stern on Teespring).

“I recently fell into the and cannot be more grateful for these campaigns because not only do they show the power and magic of fandom communities but they (and the stars) also give us hope in a world where hope is slowly fading.” -@simplyxshannon_

We’ve had a lot of campaigns. You probably have drawers full of Shirts. With those campaigns, we have raised so much money for so many worthy projects and causes.

We created the first-ever online network where 100% of the volunteers involved are trained and certified in crisis intervention. We did that through a shirt campaign. And if you’ve ever been to a Creation Entertainment Supernatural convention, you’ve seen these wonderful blue-shirted volunteers in action, helping attendees with anxiety and other mental health conditions make the most out of their convention experience. That was possible because of a shirt.

We raised $100,000 to give homeless single mothers and their children a home in the city of Bellingham, WA with the I Wish for This campaign. This campaign, helmed by one weird dude in a dandelion shirt (sorry, Misha), benefited a local charity, but we rallied behind him and made his campaign the third-most successful Stands Supernatural cast campaign, and the most successful campaign by a single person, with over 22,000 shirts, sweatshirts, bracelets and phone cases sold. Now those families have a roof over their heads and a warm place to sleep. That was possible because of a shirt.

“I think the campaigns have helped people feel more connected to the actors. We can all unite to support a cause that means a lot to both [of] us 🙂 It’s a really special connection that’s helped make the SPNFamily different than other fandoms.” -@lcangelini8

A community of self-positivity and self-love was born when the first Wayward Daughters campaign came on the scene in December 2015. Spawned from the desire for a female-led spinoff to Supernatural (which culminated in the kickass pilot Wayward Sisters), the Wayward Daughters (which eventually morphed into Wayward to be more inclusive and accepting of all regardless of gender identity) has become so much more than that. It’s a home for all us Wayward souls. It’s a place of belonging where you need not fear being yourself, where your existence is validated just on the basis of you being valid as a person. The three campaigns have collectively sold more than 25,000 items benefiting both Random Acts and New Leash on Life USA, a nonprofit aimed at redemption for both prison inmates and shelter dogs at risk of euthanasia. That was possible because of a shirt.

“Seeing people you admire–not only for their acting talents but their “being a human being” talents–starting campaigns is always a pleasant experience. Being able to support them AND causes close to their hearts? Yeah, I’d say that’s pretty special.” -@Larrs9325

But perhaps the most heartwarming part of these campaigns for me is the people that rally behind them. You, who is reading this post wearing a WaywardAF or a I Wish For This or a Rock God or a Slay or a SPN Family Love shirt. The fandom comes into these campaigns with so much love in their hearts. They purchase items for themselves and as gifts for loved ones. They share the message behind these campaigns with others both in and outside the SPN Family.

They even sign up to be donors through Stands’ and SPN Shirt Match’s donor campaigns, offering to purchase items from campaigns for those fans who can’t, for complete strangers halfway across the country, or even around the world. They purchase items for giveaways and contests, spreading the love even further.

You, the humble shirt buyer, are a big reason why I love supporting these campaigns so much. Because you give your all to each one, and there are so many that it’s easy to feel fatigued and drained after a while. But you find that love in yourselves to help support these causes that mean so much to the cast.

Shirts and Otis are the other. Stands works so incredibly hard to bring us these campaigns, and a lot of the work we don’t see. We see the end product and the culmination of all the hours and hours that went into bringing these campaigns to life. Sure, Shirts may sometimes get a little starchy with us on social media, but we love them for all they’ve given us over the last couple years. Don’t believe me? Take a scroll through the #LoveforShirtsandOtis tag on Twitter.

As for the campaigns’ impact on me?

Aside from the fact I have enough campaign items to fill my closet and dress me for a month, I’ve had these amazing opportunities to make people happy through giveaways, but also in recent months, create art inspired by the cast I love to benefit causes they love.

I spoke about the I Wish for This campaign Pop to Lynn Zubernis of Fangasm for her blog post on the Workshop:

“Personally for me, making that Pop for this campaign was a special experience because I really respect and look up to Misha Collins. He inspires me to be a better person and to do more for the people around me when I can. So to get to help with this campaign that obviously means so much to him and to the SPN Family was one of the best experiences of my life because I got to do something special for a man who’s changed me and given me so much.”

And in 2018, I did the same for another cast member I love, Samantha (Sam) Smith, supporting her Rise campaign for the Chicago Foundation for Women, a grant-making organization that seeks to help women and girls in the greater Chicago region thrive and seek opportunities they may not have otherwise had a chance to. I admire her because she is unafraid to say what she truly feels, she uses her platform to raise awareness on issues and events that might otherwise be lost in the daily swirl, and she is authentically and unapologetically herself. She is someone that I would love to grow up to be. She has been so incredibly supportive of me in the past and of the fan art community and I am so grateful to her and to Shirts for the opportunity to support her and her cause in turn in a special way.

As of this writing, the Rise campaign is in its final 36 hours (barring any extension of the campaign).

If you are able and haven’t already, please support this campaign. Please help invest in women.

If you are able and have purchased your own items, please consider being a donor either through Shirts or SPN Shirt Match. Help those who can’t afford it show their love and support.

Also, if you cannot afford to purchase an item or monetarily support the campaign, don’t feel like you can’t still be a part of this. Share the campaign. Share the organization. Spread the word, especially to people outside of the fandom. One of the best things about these campaigns is they raise awareness for organizations and causes that we might never get to learn about otherwise. So share the knowledge. The more awareness we raise for these organizations, the more likely they will receive support down the road once the campaign has finished and the last shirt has shipped.

Changing the world isn’t a sprint. It’s a marathon, one that we get to run together as one.

Our way just happens to fill our closets too.

 

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