In times like this, when the time we can spend with friends, family and colleagues is limited, we rediscover the precious nature of that time. We learn anew how important being together really is.
Perhaps that’s why Quali T’s “Together As One” fundraising campaign resonates so well right now. It’s not just a name – the campaign itself is structured to facilitate local, independent businesses supporting other local businesses or groups that are important to them. It provides a platform that enables people working together to identify a need and to do what they can to fill it.
Paying It Forward
When the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic began to take over in March, Sue Heim was just getting ready to mark Quali T’s 30th year in business. “We were planning a big April anniversary,” Sue explains. “We might have to make it a 31-year milestone instead.”
Quali T, Inc. was founded by Sue’s mother in 1990, and Sue took the business over in 1993. Community has always been important to her. She’s been honored as Person of the Year by the local Chamber of Commerce and Alumni of the Year by the local high school. Quali T makes its home in Luxemburg, a town about half an hour outside of Green Bay, Wisconsin. “We’re definitely Packers fans here,” jokes Sue.
As business began to slow down in March and April, Sue closed the company’s doors to keep her employees safe and searched for a way she could give back to the community that had honored her over the years.
Putting the “Unity” in Community
What she developed was a system to use Quali T’s capabilities to help local businesses and organizations support their communities. By providing an online storefront with a “Together As One” theme, each participant could sell t-shirts and other merchandise, with Quali T keeping things moving as the supplier and printer. The storefronts are each unique to the organization that backs them, and 10% of the proceeds are set aside for the organization to choose how they are used in their local community.
In De Pere, another suburb of Green Bay, this took shape as a group of educators offering items for all ages (even pets) and using the money they raised to help families in De Pere meet basic needs through a “Weekend Meal Bag Program.” Quali T was able to facilitate this by offering free shipping directly to homes and making the transactions contactless.
The De Pere fundraiser was popular enough that it had to be re-opened after its initial end date. When all was said and done, they sold 296 items and raised over $600 that went directly to help local families get by during the pandemic.
Sue says this is one example of many in the “Together As One” campaign, adding that “It’s a gift that keeps on giving.”
A Common Cause
While the program has the potential to continue, the need for it has ebbed as Wisconsin communities are in the process of reopening. Business for Quali T is not quite back to normal, but they’re getting there. Meanwhile, they’re using the slow time to implement new back-end software, a project that has been on the back burner for a long time.
There are currently no active “Together As One” stores. “Honestly?” muses Sue, when asked about the future of campaign. “I hope there’s no more need for it.”
At the height of the effort, Quali T was able to help support struggling businesses and groups, from hairstylists to restaurants to travel agencies. “It was amazing while it was happening.”
What Quali T accomplished shows the power of what can happen when we work together toward a common cause. For them and for all of us, “Together As One” is more than a name – it’s a rule to live by.
The Importance of Keeping It Simple
March 2020 was a stressful time for any independently-owned business. Tiny Little Monster in St. Louis turned delayed events and canceled orders into an an idea that benefitted their local community and other businesses around the country.