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Cardinal O’Hara students turn T-shirts into totes

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TONAWANDA — Jacqueline Appenheimer, a senior at Cardinal O’Hara High School, was looking for something to help fill her time during the pandemic.

Her father, Thomas Appenheimer, suggested she check out the United Way website that had suggestions of projects that could be done at home that would benefit community groups.

Bethany Mandaville (left) and Jacqueline Appenheimer display the Cardinal O’Hara shirts they have turned into totes for the United Way. (Photos courtesy of Cardinal O’Hara High School)

Jacqueline chose the T-Shirts to Totes idea that takes T-shirts and by redesigning them, turns them into totes.

Renee Orr, director of advancement at Cardinal O’Hara, offered Jacqueline T-shirts that were left from a number of prior events at the school. That “gift” started Jacqueline on her way.

A soccer player and track star, she had made friends with Bethany Mandaville, a sophomore, who was on the same teams.

“The instructions were printed so it was easy to make the shirts,” Jacqueline said. “We turned the shirt inside out and cut strips at the bottom and tied each two strips together for a secure bottom.”

Bethany laughed saying they had to make sure there was an even number to be tied so there wasn’t an extra strip leftover. Then the shirts were turned to the right side and the sleeves and collar were cut off.

“There was no template and we wanted shirts with personality and color, a tote someone would use,” she added. “So, the shirts from O’Hara are perfect.”

The first totes were given to the United Way for FeedMore WNY. At the present time they are making totes for a refugee program in Buffalo.

“They are used to carry basic necessities, like clothes and food,” Jacqueline said.

Both girls said they like the idea of helping people. In fact, Bethany recalled helping families through her church in Niagara Falls when she was only about 8 years old.

“I want to keep it gong next year when Jacquie’s not here,” Bethany said. “Maybe a mini-club or making the totes outside of school.”

Jacqueline added that they have enjoyed the project and the fact that they can make a difference in people’s lives.

They already have places that can use the totes, such as refugee groups in Buffalo, so they intend to make shirts over Easter break.

“We’ve also thought of disabled or elderly people who use walkers,” Jacqueline said. “We’ll have to work harder,” she smiled.

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