Shaka Smart partners with Bonfire Funds, local businesses for campaign benefiting FRIENDS

Ledbury, Unboxed, others raise funds for Richmond youth organization

Shaka and Maya Smart are reaching out to Richmond’s business community as part of their month-long fundraising campaign for FRIENDS Association for Children, a youth development organization serving Richmond for 142 years. The Smart family plans to raise $100,000 for FRIENDS during the month of November through Richmond T-shirt startup Bonfire Funds.

“We hope seeing thousands of FRIENDS shirts across Richmond will help raise the profile of this organization that my family personally supports,” Shaka Smart said.

The Smarts show off their FRIENDS shirts.

The Smarts show off their FRIENDS shirts.

Haley Automotive Group, Ledbury, PeakLogix, Unboxed and Mama J’s Kitchen, among others, have signed on with the campaign to compete for an hour with Shaka Smart for their organization. The group that raises the most money for FRIENDS will receive the VCU men’s basketball coach for a pep rally, workshop, or even a team workout.

Businesses are encouraged to place bulk orders for a special “FRIENDS RVA” T-shirt through to give to their employees and help spread the word. All sales count toward their team’s final score.

“I visited FRIENDS earlier this year and saw the organization’s positive influence firsthand,” Coach Smart said. “The kids are so bright, they have a great energy, and we need to keep lifting them up so they can reach their potential.”

FRIENDS offers services that help children gain critical literacy and developmental skills with two centers located in Church Hill and Jackson Ward’s Gilpin Court housing development project.

“Our family continues to be impressed with the impact this organization is making for children in the community,” Maya Smart said. “We hope Richmond stands with us this month to raise money and visibility for FRIENDS.”

The FRIENDS shirts for sale.

The FRIENDS shirts for sale.

With the addition of a team-selling feature, this partnership marks the most ambitious on the Bonfire platform to date.

“We are thrilled to partner with Shaka and Maya on this campaign,” Bonfire founder Brian Marks said. “We’ve already been able to raise money for thousands of causes using our model, and we’re excited to expand our platform to encourage teams to sell T-shirts for FRIENDS.”

For information about bulk sales or offline donations, contact campaign manager Erin Holler at 804-986-0957 or [email protected].

FRIENDS Association for Children operates multi-service child development centers in Jackson Ward and Church Hill and serves nearly 1,000 children, ages 6 weeks to 17 years, with a broad array of services. Learn more about the organization’s beginnings in 1871 at is risk-free way to sell soft T-shirts for a cause. Once a fund is launched, a t-shirt is designed, as long as the fund sells 50 shirts, Bonfire prints, ships and instantly transfers all proceeds from the fund directly to you.

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