Student-Run Heartfelt Designs Writes First Check to Support Mission Trip

From left are Professor Steve Scarpati, Alexa Duffy, Director of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning Matthew Kaye, Edward Garrity, Natalie DiGennaro, President John Petillo, Octavia Pierce, Taylor DiBella, Erin Morgan and Professor David Bloom.

News Story: October 30, 2014

Heartfelt Designs, a T-shirt design business run by Sacred Heart University students to support charitable efforts at the school, announced that it has written its first check to the University’s Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning. The check is in the amount of $1,000 and helps fund student mission trips to El Salvador.

The business was established in spring 2012 at the suggestion of SHU President John J. Petillo, and the group has expanded its line to sweatpants. Other new products are in development. The first series of Heartfelt-produced T-shirts was in response to the horrendous shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown in December 2012. A SHU alumnus created a supportive quote, which was printed on the T-shirts, and the shirts were sold in the University Bookstore. All proceeds were donated to The Sandy Hook Elementary School Memorial Scholarship Fund.

More recent apparel, also available in the school bookstore, features abstract designs of Marilyn Monroe and “Breaking Bad” TV series character Walter White’s face. With every purchase of a pair of sweatpants, Heartfelt donates a pair of gloves to shelters in the Bridgeport area.

In March 2014, Heartfelt conducted a campus-wide contest allowing students to submit new, original design ideas that might be featured as printed artwork on its shirts. The exercise allowed a wider body of students to participate in the creation process and support the group’s philanthropic goals. A second contest just wrapped mid-October.

The business is a collaboration of students from various majors, giving them the opportunity to come together and get experience by creating marketing plans, designs and financial statements to build a business. One hundred percent of revenue is donated.

Heartfelt’s president, Natalie DiGennaro ’15, summed up her involvement, saying, “I’ve been a part of Heartfelt since the start. Working with the design team has truly been an honor, giving me experience on how a company runs and how to run my own company. I have been connected with great faculty, administrators and students here on campus, too, and able to expand my networking skills and connections throughout the University. I am happy that I got involved with such a giving organization, and I love to help the University in any way I can.”

Edward Garrity, a fellow senior who was Heartfelt’s art director and is now the group’s vice president, said about the business, “It gives me good experience as a leader and is a great way to test the waters in the entrepreneurial world—something in which I am very interested.”