MATTOON, Ill. (WCIA) — Mattoon High School students might start to feel safe again thanks to some alumni. The school shooting last week rattled the community to its core.
Now, alumni are trying to do what they can to restore the feeling of security at the school. They’re selling t-shirts with proceeds going towards security measures. There’s no exact plan in place, but they said they’ll hand over the money to use for that purpose.
It’s a hot day at Wave Graphics. The owner, Doug Paulson, is an alumni of Mattoon High School.
“I graduated in 1996.”
His printing company prints shirts internationally, but there’s never been a shirt he’s made which has been as dear to his heart as this one.
“In over ten years of working here, I think it’s the most influential shirt we’ve ever printed.”
It says #Mattoonstrong and is being sold to raise money for the school’s security after last week’s shooting. Stephanie Packer, another former student, came up with the idea.
“When it happens so close to home, especially at your high school, it’s overwhelming.”
Since word has gotten out about the shirts, people have started chipping in to help; even a surprise visitor.
“Just this morning, the shooting victim’s grandfather was in the lobby waiting with a $100 check and said his grandmother wants this to go towards kids who can’t afford the shirt.”
But, these aren’t the only alumni helping.
“A lot of employees we have here, had my class. I taught graphic communications at the high school for 30-years.”
Epperson eventually went into business with Paulson, his former student.
“It’s wonderful. One of the students is my boss right now, so you don’t get to see that very often.”
Now, he’s watching the same students, help the place where it all started.
“It’s a reward I never thought I’d get teaching, but I see it every day now.”
“I think it’s great to give back to the community and our high school. We’re proud to do it and we hope it helps them out in every way possible.”
They’ll be selling the shirts at the Holiday Inn, Saturday, for $10, with all proceeds going to the school. They hope to present a check during the Homecoming game, October 6.
This isn’t the only fundraiser helping with schoool security. Sarah Wilson lives a few blcoks from the school. She said she wanted to make sure the school is prepared if it happens again, so she started an online fundraiser.
School leaders say the money will go to the school’s activity fund and they’ll figure out where to allocate the money from there.