For a girl who claims not to care about fashion, Avril Lavigne has a strange way of showing it.
Something as simple as her choice of which grungy T-shirt to wear in her "Sk8er Boi" video yielded a goldmine recently for an elementary school in Wilkesboro, North Carolina. As it turns out, the spunky rocker may have just created a whole new style of charitable giving.
The folks at Wilkesboro Elementary School didn't know what hit them when the frantic phone calls and e-mails started pouring in shortly after Lavigne wore one of the school's green-and-gold T-shirts in her popular clip.
"We've ordered more than 500 of them so far," said Wilkesboro principal Mike Dancy. "We've had people from Thailand, Sweden, the U.K., Texas, Hawaii and Georgia call to find out about getting shirts." The T-shirts — created several years ago after the school's students earned high marks on annual proficiency tests — were out of circulation for four years, but the Lavigne stamp of approval has had officials brushing off the mothballs.
From what Dancy has been told, Lavigne picked up her shirt at a thrift store in New York. Proceeds from sales of the shirts, which go for $20 on eBay and for $10 at the school, are earmarked for buying computers. "I think the PTO president has attempted to contact Avril's people, and we would love to have her come and take a tour and see what she's made famous," Dancy said.
Fans' obsession with their favorite celebs' threads is nothing new. From the run-down-looking Mumford Phys. Ed sweatshirt sported by Eddie Murphy in "Beverly Hills Cop" — which raised some dough for Detroit's Samuel C. Mumford High School — to the recent run on "Jesus Is My Homeboy" T-shirts sparked by Pamela Anderson and "That '70s Show" star Ashton Kutcher — Lavigne provides yet another example of how the most ordinary of items can appear extraordinary when endorsed, directly or indirectly, by a famous figure.
Fortunately for Lavigne's hometown fans, Wilkesboro wasn't the only place to benefit from Avril's random act of kindness. The day after Lavigne's January 11 performance on "Saturday Night Live," during which she wore her old high school soccer jersey, the Canadian chain Home Hardware, which has more than 1,200 stores across the country, was slammed with shirt requests.
"We normally don't sell any of these shirts, since they're made for the soccer team we sponsor," said Dan Jones, assistant manager of the hardest hit store in Lavigne's hometown of Napanee in Eastern Ontario, "but since she wore it [the chain has] sold more than 8,000." More than 2,500 of those shirts have been ordered from the Napanee store, which has raised a record $13,000 for Avril's old soccer club. An additional $30,000 has gone to the singer's handpicked charity, the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
"She played on the team about five years ago," said Jones, "and they said the one she wore on the show is one of her favorite shirts. We contacted her parents when all this started and she said she wanted the money to go to the soccer team and the hospital. We thought we might sell 400 to 500 when this first happened, but no one ever imagined it would go like this." Jones said he's shipped shirts all over Canada and the United States, and that a caller from the U.K. recently asked for 1,500 to be sent over in time for the recent Brit Awards, an order that he was unfortunately not able to fill.
Tourists from all over Canada have been making pilgrimages to the Napanee store to buy the soccer jerseys and have their pictures taken out front. However, if you want to get in on the action, Jones said you'll have to hurry. "We're only going to sell them until the weekend after the [April 6] Juno Awards," he said of the April 13 cutoff date for the $15.99 collector's items. "Then we have to call it quits."
Lavigne is on tour in Europe and could not be reached for comment.