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Courtesy of Kasandra Brooks

When fire ripped through her community, she knew how to help

Amid loss and destruction caused by the recent North Bay wildfires, a Fresno State alumna is using the power of T-shirts art to aid relief efforts in and around her hometown of Redwood Valley.

Kasandra Brooks said her family, being from one of the areas affected in Mendocino County, wanted to give back to those in their hometown who lost their belongings and homes.

“These devastating fires got within a mile or so of one of my family’s vineyards – Testa Vineyards – and my brother and sister’s homes in Redwood Valley,” Brooks, who graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in child development and a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration in 2013, said.

The family vineyard is 105 years old, and Brooks said she and her sister are the fifth generation that cares for it.

Brooks, her sister and several of her family members decided to design seven different T-shirts that commemorate the tragedy and raise financial relief for those affected. “We hope this gives people, near and far, an opportunity to give back and lift spirits of those in need,” Brooks said.

The T-shirt designs were created as Brooks and her sister and fundraising partner, Kortney Morris, were evacuated from their own homes. Brooks said she could not have done much of the work without her sister.

The T-shirts are up for sale in the family’s online Etsy store, BasiK Shop. The store guarantees that 100 percent of the proceeds will go toward helping the victims.

Donations will be made to The Community Foundation of Mendocino County, North Coast Opportunities and Redwood Credit Union Community Fund, Brooks said.

She said that the three organizations will direct the money to aid victims in Mendocino, Lake, Napa and Sonoma counties. People can also donate directly to the organizations.

Since its debut on Oct. 12, the online store has sold 285 shirts and raised $2,655 that will be divided among the organizations.

“People have bought shirts from all over the country,” Brooks said. “It is simply amazing the support we have gained from not only our community in California but from all over.”

Shirts are offered in various colors and designs when adult sizes are selected, including some that read “Nor Cal Strong” and “Left My Heart in Nor Cal.” The California bear logo is the only design that comes in adult, toddler and youth sizes.

Although prices range by size, most T-shirts’ prices are $24 plus taxes and shipping, Brooks said.

A donation for disaster relief is included in the $24 when purchasing a T-shirt. Brooks said the store was launched earlier than expected due to the fires.

“When our hometown was affected by the awful fires in northern California, we wanted to be able to do something to give back to our dear town of Redwood Valley and all surrounding areas,” Brooks said.

She said the rest of the T-shirt products will launch later this year. The “Nor Cal Strong” line will remain available for purchase and the proceeds will continue to go to the victims of the wildfires.

“We are so thankful that our family is safe and our land went unharmed,” Brooks said. “But many of our neighbors, or extended family and our employees lost everything in these fires. We did this to help them.”