Creative fundraising project helps AIDS programs for women and children in Africa
Twenty-something Calgarian Tarin Arndt is proving that being a do-gooder is possible at any age. Just over a year ago, she founded a non-profit fundraising project called T4A Apparel, which supports women and children suffering from AIDS in Africa.
Arndt creates and sells trendy tie-dyed T-shirts and other contemporary apparel, such as feather earrings and knit headbands. She says her products appeal to a younger demographic of people who want to make the world a better place.
"Just the amount of cool people you meet makes it worth it," Arndt says. "Everyone is so willing to help out."
The idea began when Arndt decided there was more to life than the typical party and work routine of recently graduated teenagers. Determined to change the world, she decided to travel to Africa with the organization International Volunteer.
In order to raise money for her trip, she began to sell hand-made, tie-dyed apparel that was in high demand in Calgary, especially by what Arndt defines as the "mountain community."
This community includes snowboarders, skateboarders, mountain bikers and overall young fringe groups. Thanks to the support from these young people, T4A Apparel became a permanent entity to raise both awareness and funds for the cause of AIDS in Africa.
"I just really wanted to do it myself," Arndt says.
"I wanted the satisfaction that a young 20-something can do this. You give up a lot of things and make sacrifices, but you get to change the world."
Since launching T4A Apparel, Arndt says she has given up everything from post-secondary studies to spending time with her friends and family in order to make her dream a reality.
Landon Martin, a childhood friend of Arndt, says: "When Tarin first started T4A Apparel, I had no idea that it would make such an impact so quickly. It's really inspirational."
Arndt says all of the profits from her enterprise go to Living Positive Kenya's Women Economic Empowering Program, which focuses on feeding, housing and teaching underprivileged mothers and children living with AIDS in Africa.
The money raised from T4A Apparel has helped to buy teaching supplies, sewing machines and food for mothers and a daycare that houses children under five.
T4A also helps AIDS-affected orphans find sponsors so they can afford to attend a boarding school. Recently, Arndt has had enough support to extend her involvement in Africa by collaborating with Living Positive to buy a children's transitional home.
The home will act as a safe house for orphaned children during the transitional time before boarding school or finding a more permanent residence.
"The foster care system in Africa is really messed up," Arndt observes. "Orphans often live in the slums until they find a sponsor, and it is just not safe."
Arndt speculates that this home is where the majority of her future profits will go. Her goal is to create a haven for the children, and stay there herself when returning to Africa, she says.
Tarin's mother, Christine Arndt, observes that "Tarin has been an agent of change: not only in Africa, but also in her home community by introducing her peers to the joy of contributing to a worthy cause."
Tarin says her approach to T4A Apparel is to take it one day at a time.
She credits her current success to social media and word of mouth from loyal supporters.
She says she realizes that some people might not identify with her passion for Africa, but she believes it is most important "to do what you love and love doing it."