Fundraiser for Bertrand woman’s t-shirt thanking firefighters spans 47 states | State and Area News


BERTRAND — When Jennifer Weber started a fundraiser to help fire departments battling recent wildfires in southwestern Nebraska, she hoped to give back around $1,000.

Weber has owned the Pretty & Fabulous boutique and t-shirt printing shop in Bertrand since 2017. In April, she had a t-shirt designed to honor first responders. Proceeds from the sale of the shirts would be donated to area fire departments directly affected by the fires. Within days, over $30,000 was raised.

A friend told her she should host a fundraiser for firefighters shortly after the April Highway 739 fire near Arapahoe. The fires struck near the home of Weber whose husband volunteers with Bertrand’s volunteer fire department. However, she got busy and decided to wait before starting the project. But a few weeks later another fire engulfed more than 40,000 acres near Cambridge. Weber knew she couldn’t wait any longer.

She reached out to her creator, Emma Larson of Loomis, about what she wanted to do. Larson ran with the idea for a “Prairie Strong” T-shirt. Weber opened online sales of the shirt on April 23 and she made a post about it on Facebook. His initial post reached 85,235 people and was shared 685 times.

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Weber hoped she could give back a little to local services, but the impact has spread farther than she could have imagined. On April 27, Weber realized that people had ordered shirts in 22 states. His new goal was to try to sell a shirt to customers in all 50 states.

“I left (the sale) open a little longer just because people were still ordering,” she explained.

When she closed the sale on May 1, shirts were purchased in 47 states and one from a US military base in Europe. Even though Pretty & Fabulous is a printing company in its own right, Weber knew that when sales hit over $10,000 in just a few hours, she would need to hire some help printing the shirts. She worked with Sayler Screenprinting in Kearney, and she contacted them for help.

“On Monday, when I hit $10,000, I called Kyle and I was like, ‘OK, either I’m going to have to stop him because it’s going to take me weeks on a textbook, or I’m going to need your help.’ He’s like, ‘No, we got you.’ He goes, ‘Leave it open. Do what you can, and we’ll get them made for you. So it was great to team up with him and great to work with another printer,” Weber said.

Sandy Dannehl and Jennifer Weber unbox t-shirts created to honor first responders to the recent Nebraska wildfires. Funds raised from the sale of the t-shirts will be donated to volunteer firefighters directly affected by the fires.

Ashley Bebensee, Kearney Hub

Weber received 40 boxes of shirts last week. She was waiting until graduation was over so she could get a place big enough to start sorting and organizing all the shirts to be shipped. She had about 10 local volunteers – many of whom have connections to the fire service – who offered to help her get the shirts out.

Weber has a long list of fire departments she plans to donate profits to, including departments in south-central Nebraska that responded to the Routes 739 and 702 fires and those that responded to a fire near Elsie and Wallace.

As news of the T-shirts spread, Weber heard from many locals who missed the opportunity to buy a shirt or weren’t sure how to buy it online. Sales of the t-shirts have reopened online at under “Prairie Strong”. It will remain open until after Memorial Day. Funds raised will go to area fire departments that were missed in the first round.

“I hope I can help as many volunteer firefighters as possible. It could not have been done without the support received across the state and the United States,” she said. “It’s truly amazing to see people come together and work together during tough times. It’s what makes Nebraska a great place to live, where neighbors help each other out.”

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