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Clothed with Kindness: Widespread Threads Sells a T-shirt, Gives One to a Child

The four founders of a charity-driven clothing store wanted to #MovetheMovement.

In a few weeks, they’re taking it all the way to the West Coast.

Sergeant Bluff natives Jake Thomas, Jerid Schumacher, Taylor Grote, and Levi Maxfield have been selected to attend the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit, hosted by Invisible Children at UCLA, Aug. 8-11.

“What we stand for is those small acts of kindness that create big movements,” Thomas said. “We didn’t think it would take off this fast.”

Widespread Threads, founded by four University of Iowa students in April, has a mission to make a change—one T-shirt at a time. Or maybe that should say two.

The clothing company matches each purchase with a donation to Kids in Distressed Situations, a nonprofit organization that provides essential products to children and teens affected by poverty.

For each T-shirt sold, Widespread Threads gives one to a child in need.

“If you make an impact on someone when they’re young, that carries throughout their life,” Schumacher said.

The movement is on the move.

At the four-day conference in Los Angeles, the Widespread Threads crew will have the opportunity to network with other young community leaders and learn new skills through hands-on workshops.

The leadership summit strives to help students and educators make a difference in their own communities and around the world.

But before they make their big trip, they have a few packages to deliver.

More than 300 brand-new child-size T-shirts will be given away Aug. 3 at an event put on by Boone County CARES, which is part of the K.I.D.S. network.

“There are a lot of kids out there that don’t have the same head start as other kids do,” Schumacher said.

The Widespread movement comes from small beginnings.

About a year ago, Thomas and Schumacher started selling wristbands for charity, but they wanted to make more of an impact.

It didn’t take long for them to land on T-shirts.

They formed a business plan and applied to participate in the Bedell Entrepreneurship Learning Laboratory, a program at the University of Iowa dedicated to helping student entrepreneurs.

Widespread Threads is one of nearly 20 businesses in the program.

The wristbands are still a part of what they do.

Movement Bandz help raise money for the Silver Lining fund, which benefits the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital, and the Kokua fund.

Thomas explained the Hawaiian word succinctly, saying Kokua means “to give without expecting anything in return.”

The fund was created to encourage random acts of kindness in the community. Wherever that is.

Widespread Threads has an office in Iowa City, Iowa, but the founders didn’t forget their Siouxland roots.

Currently, proceeds from the Kokua wristbands benefit two children, Ross Gengler and Jacey Ball, both of Sergeant Bluff. He has cancer. She has leukemia.

The founders say their company isn’t just a clothing line. It’s a lifestyle.

And it carries a message.

“When you give, you receive tenfold,” Thomas said.

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