Hilton Head Island’s “Welcome Home” sign for weary Hurricane Matthew evacuees is getting its second wind.
It will be on a T-shirt to raise money for the Deep Well Project, a nonprofit social services agency founded in 1973 as a safety net for “the least of these” on Hilton Head.
Byron Sewell had that in mind shortly after he painted the sign on plywood that had covered a window at the home of his mother, Sis Sewell.
So did the island’s T-shirt magnate, Salty Dog owner Bob Gossett.
“I came across the bridge and saw the sign like everybody else,” Gossett said Tuesday. “I was looking for a way to help. I knew Byron Sewell by name, but we’d never met. I called him and asked him about using it to help Deep Well, and he was thinking the same thing.”
Five hundred white, short-sleeved Hanes T-shirts were delivered Tuesday, and printing began immediately. They will be available Wednesday in adult and kid sizes for $15 plus sales tax. Gossett said 100 percent of the revenue from the first 500 will go to Deep Well. If more shirts are needed, cost of materials may be deducted, but all proceeds would go to Deep Well, he said.
“This is not about Salty Dog; this is all about Deep Well,” he said.
The shirts initially will be sold at Salty Dog outlets, but Gossett is looking for other sales locations, and online ordering will be set up, he said.
The Deep Well office and food pantry at 80 Capital Drive was unharmed by the storm. But its computer server would not come back up, and people were lined up for help as soon as they returned to the island.
“They have no money,” said executive director Betsy Doughtie, who is related to Byron Sewell. “They can’t pay rent. They can’t pay the electric bill. They spent their money on gas and the other expenses of evacuation, and they lost at least a week of work. Demand is running at least four times higher than usual.”
On Tuesday, the phone was ringing constantly, but the group had plenty of food.
“We’ve got an ample supply, but it’s going fast,” said Doughtie, whose own home had two 4-foot holes poked in the roof by a fallen tree.
She said more food is coming in. She said churches and other organizations are helping, including the Hilton Head Island High School Seahawks. She said people will be asked to bring canned goods for admittance to Friday night’s football game.