'Blown away:' T-shirt fundraiser helps Raleigh small businesses during COVID-19 pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Some of the plywood you see boarding up downtown businesses, or the sanitizer and masks being offering inside, are being paid for through a new fundraiser.

The nonprofit Shop Local Raleigh is selling T-shirts to help struggling small businesses.

The shirt, which sells for $24, says "Here for Good: Helping NC Small Business."

Proceeds are helping to cover new operating costs during the COVID-19 crisis and one small business owner is making the most of the opportunity.

PDI Drywall owner Mikki Paradise is benefiting.

She is one of the few female contractors in Wake County and has owned the company for 15 years.

Paradise has stayed busy during the pandemic, but she said her profit margin slipped initially as she had to buy surgical masks, sanitizer and other protective equipment for her workers.

"It definitely wasn't in my budget when I was bidding jobs a year ago," Paradise said.

She is now benefitting from the program and getting the items at an extremely low price.

"It's amazing when a company comes in or nonprofit comes in and says 'Hey we got your back. We're going to help you with this.' I was blown away by it and I'm very grateful," Paradise said.

Shop Local Raleigh is sourcing the protective gear and buying in bulk. The staff is then using money through its T-shirt fundraiser to further drive down costs.

"So far, the T-shirt program has been able to produce more than $3,000 and 100 percent of that is going back to subsidize the cost of this equipment," Shop Local Raleigh Executive Director Jen Martin said.

As donations keep coming, the nonprofit is circling back with small-business owners with additional good news. The nonprofit has been able to give money back for previous purchases.

Any small business can take advantage of the program, not just one that are members of Shop Local Raleigh.
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