The KW Awesome t-shirt project has helped raise thousands of dollars to support local businesses (Jessica Smith / CTV News Kitchener)

A local t-shirt printer has teamed up with local businesses, raising thousands of dollars to support them during the pandemic.

“What we know is making t-shirt so that was the best way for us to give back to our community,” said Curt Crossman. Founder of Civilian Screen Printing in Kitchener.

The team at Civilian started the KW-Awesome project as a way to support small businesses struggling due to COVID-19.

“We were trying to figure out a way how we could keep our business going and how could we help the other businesses that are in a similar situation to us,” said Crossman.

Offering to cover the cost of the t-shirts and materials, they put a call out to Waterloo Region's small business community to collaborate and split the profits.

“There was that lag for a few months where people didn't know how long they were going to be closed or didn't pivot to do the online stuff. So I think a lot of people were really receptive to that and it really, really helped a lot of businesses,” said Crossman.

The project has raised more than $60,000 since launching in April, and helped more than 50 local businesses, artists and charities; many of them taking their own profits and paying it forward.

“It gave our clients, friends and family a way to support our business when we didn't really know what to do,” said Eddie Stannard, Co-Owner of The Green Room Barbershop.

“The support for us came at a really low point when we were just so unsure about what the future of our business would look like,” said Dani Stock, Co-Founder of AOK Craft Beer + Arcade.

“We actually had two designs that we put through the store there, the first one we donated 100 per cent proceeds, and then the second design was our pride shirt for pride month, and half the proceeds went to spectrum,” said Amanda Humphreys, Front of House Manager with TWB Brewing.

The team at Civilian has just wrapped up the first portion of the KW-Awesome project. As for what’s next, they plan on re-launching and collaborating with more local businesses and charities moving into the fall and winter- starting with Movember.