Stout Students Provide Relief

When UW-Stout senior Alex Nelson saw graphic images of Thailand after Tsunamis struck the day after Christmas, he didn't want to simply sit and take it in.

"I'm just watching all this happen...what can i do? I need to do something."

Little did he know that five months later, he'd be the inspiration behind a relief effort in one of his classes.

In January, Alex, who goes by "A," was assigned a project with his classmates: set up a business, and make a garment that can be used in the community.

"I'm thinking community community, community, but that's such a small thought...what about a global community?"

So "A" and four of his classmates headed to Acoustic Cafe, and decided on, what they think, is an even better idea, making overalls for Tsunami victims in Thailand.

"Once they had that original idea, everything seemed to flow from there," said Susan King, the class's instructor.

Every student had a job, and they put the bibs together like an assembly line, a common practice in the industry.

"The thread count is very high-they should be durable garments," said Pattern-Maker Erin Hogan-Braker.

A's design connects the straps with velcro. Easier for the kids to use, he says, and a failsafe if the strap gets caught on something.

"He thought about what country they were going to send his design to, what these people would be doing, what the environment would be like," King said.

Now forty pair are packed up and on their way. Knowing they'll get to Thailand is like an A-plus, as far as "A" is concerned.

"It makes me feel really good, especially since my sketch turned into something that will be on the back of kids."

Although "A" and his classmates finished up three weeks early, kids who really need the overalls probably won't mind getting them ahead of schedule.


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