That’s how local business owners described their decision to donate about 15,000 shirts with a retail value of nearly $80,000 to thousands of school employees in the Upstate.
Anderson School District One hosted a special celebration on Thursday afternoon to thank OOBE and Signatures, Inc. for their donation to all of Anderson School District One employees. Every employee in Anderson One received an OOBE shirt with a Signatures, Inc. embroidery on it a few months ago, and Anderson One Superintendent Wayne Fowler said he wanted to show the district’s appreciation for the gifts.
“It has been such a good thing for our district,” Fowler said on Wednesday afternoon in Wren Middle School’s library, in front of several teachers. OOBE also distributed the shirts to employees in Greenville and Pickens County school districts and other districts in Anderson County.
Fowler said that OOBE co-founder Tom Merritt began discussing the possibility of donating the shirts a to the district a few months ago. When the economy began to sour last fall, Fowler told Merritt, who also serves on Anderson One’s Board of Trustees, that he would understand if the donation wouldn’t be possible this year.
“(But) they wanted to still do this,” Fowler said. “Not only did they want to do it for Anderson One, but for all of Anderson County, for Greenville County and for Pickens County.”
Fowler said the shirts, which have Anderson One’s symbol embroidered on them, generate “a sense of pride” for district employees.
Merritt said OOBE leaders saw the opportunity as a chance “to give a little something back.” Meritt has four children who attend school in Anderson One — one in Hunt Meadows Elementary School, one in Wren High School and two in Wren Middle School.
“Our business philosophy really revolved around the notion of being good stewards with what we’ve been given, and we’ve been fortunate to have been given a modestly successful clothing company. One of our largest customers is Chick-fil-A and they are consistently giving to the community and area schools. We have tremendous respect and admiration for them and felt they were a great example and inspiration for the kind of generosity and stewardship we should demonstrate.”
Signatures, Inc. owner Jeannette Peterson said making the embroideries was a rewarding project, and one that she believed in.
OOBE President Toby Stansell said the shirts represented their a “symbol” of their gratitude for the teachers’ work. When OOBE’s leaders realized that someone could benefit from their surplus, they figured that no one would be more deserving than teachers and school staff, Stansell said.
“We’re grateful to you. … You certainly owe us no appreciation at all,” he said.