Irish Illini sell Unofficial shirts to raise money for charity

By Crystal Kang

Registered Student Organization Irish Illini, notorious on campus for their annual drinking events, will be showing its more charitable side this month when they design Unofficial St. Patrick’s Day T-shirts to be sold by the end of February.

Most of the money raised from the T-shirts will go toward charities.

“We usually get huge turnout for T-shirt sales,” junior Kenny Burns said, the club’s philanthropy chair. “Our club actually does good things. I know it’s got a stigma to it, and I’m glad of how much we’re able to give back.”

There is a common misconception that the Irish Illini only promotes drinking, but the group will host two charity events to help raise awareness and funding. The Irish Illini will hold a blood drive March 4 at the University YMCA, and Relay for Life will take place March 13 at the Armory.

“Our biggest event is Relay For Life,” Burns said. “Every year Relay For Life comes to U of I. We get an executive team and a non-exec team.”

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    In the past two years, the Irish Illini has raised $3,000 from Unofficial T-shirt sales. Burns added that the Irish Illini organized food drives around Thanksgiving for local charities.

    “Our organization has a big network,” Burns said. “We use social events that we know will target a large student body. That allows us to get money from selling T-shirts which we can donate to charity, such as the American Cancer Society. If a member has a personal relationship with an organization, we try to raise money for that.”

    Champaign Mayor Gerald Schweighart sees these charitable events as positive.

    “I think that helps,” Schweighart said. “Bringing people in for charity events is all positive as long as you’re not connecting it with ‘Unofficial’, which started out as drunkfest. If you have charity events such as ‘color Green Street purple for cancer awareness,’ all that is positive because it’s not connected with heavy drinking. We’re willing to help if it’s positive and again not purporting to do binge drinking.”