January 21, 2010 by Alexia Severson NMSU Round Up
ROJO, an online company dedicated to feeding the hungry, has turned its focus to helping the relief effort in Haiti with “Help Haiti” t-shirts and other apparel.
Jose Rodriguez and Aron Jones, two New Mexico State University graduates, began the company with the intent of feeding hungry children in Africa, but the earthquake that shook Haiti less than two weeks ago inspired them to help victims in Haiti as well.
“As soon as we saw the reports, we went into action,” Rodriguez said.
According to The New York Times, rescuers in Haiti are continuing to search for survivors who may still be buried under the destruction, and rescue teams and survivors are in desperate need of clean water and food.
At www.rojoapparel.com, the company’s Web site, people can buy products such as T-shirts, hats and bracelets to help raise money to send food to earthquake survivors.
Rodriguez said 100 percent of the proceeds from the purchase of eco-friendly wristbands will go to the relief effort in Haiti. Each T-shirt purchased will buy 50 meals.
“Something like Haiti happens and people aren’t going to stop going to the mall,” Jones said. “They’re not going to stop living their life here, so why not? If you’re going to buy a shirt, why not from someone like us.”
Many students may feel they cannot make an impact, Rodriguez said, either because they are too young, or too far away, but the youth have more of a voice than ever.
“Facebook and Twitter give [students] a sounding board that they’ve never had before,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said without the Internet and other media outlets available to young people, ROJO would have never been possible.
“We wouldn’t be selling wristbands in New York or Panama,” Rodriguez said.
According to The New York Times, before the earthquake, Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Now the people of Haiti must work to rebuild after the worst natural disaster to hit the country in 200 years.
Sending fortified meals to feed the hungry is just a small impact people can make, Rodriguez said.
“We are trying to spread awareness and get the community involved,” Rodriguez said.
What happened in Haiti will not stay headline news forever, Rodriguez said.
“[But] ROJO apparel isn’t going anywhere, we want to stay here and generate funds for these types of causes,” Rodriguez said.
ROJO will continue to send meals to Zimbabwe, as well as the refugees of Haiti, and students can choose which cause to support when purchasing products from the company Web site.
“Just one meal a day sustains life,” Jones said.
ROJO products are also available at Chain Driven Bikes in Las Cruces.
For more information, visit www.rojoapparel.com.
Alexia Severson is a staff writer and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.