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Emerson College Students Raise Almost $1M Selling Boston Strong Shirts

BOSTON (CBS) - On April 15th, Emerson College students Nick Reynolds and Chris Dobens were about to go with a group of friends to the Boston Marathon finish line. "We started getting texts and posts on Twitter that were like, everyone stay where you are," Nick remembered.

Locked down at school after the bombings, the two watched the day unfold on the news. Like so many people, they wanted to help. "I looked at Nick and said why don't we come up with a t-shirt?" Chris recalled.

Within hours, Nick was designing the shirt with the logo, Boston Strong. Chris, a marketing major, began spreading the word with a Facebook page. They paired with the company, Ink to the People, to get the shirts made. "We originally planned to sell 110 t-shirts," Nick said. Eight weeks later, the two brought their campaign to an end this past Sunday after selling more than 59,000.  "It is absolutely unreal," said Nick. "We just kind of held on for the ride and just let it take off," added Chris.

The shirts were shipped around the country, and then sent across the world. The guys know of ones that ended up in Nepal and Madagascar. Yes, it was about sending a message of our city's strength, but more importantly raising money for victims' families and survivors. "$15.00 for every purchase went directly to The One Fund Boston. They were $20.00 with $5.00 for production costs," Nick explained. The grand total, though, neither could've imagined. "We raised $893,940 that we handed over to Mayor Menino earlier today," he said.

"Being able to donate to the One Fund was incredible," explained Chris. "You think about it in the context of things, you know, two college kids started a t-shirt campaign that raised almost a million dollars in donations."

Tuesday evening, the two invited anyone who wanted to come to Copley Square and pose for a picture. The rain kept huge numbers away, but enough showed up to make an impact. This was for the victims' families and for survivors. "I want to be able to show them that there is a community behind them and that there are people who care about them and want to help them through all of this for the rest of their lives," Chris said.

What's next? Nick says they're hoping to work on a book of stories and photos. "The sky is the limit at this point and we have this great community surrounding us and so we're really looking at what phase two looks like," he said. "It really is a message of recovery for the city itself but especially for the victims to know that there are so many people around willing to support them."

If you want to keep up with the Boston Strong effort, check out their Facebook page.

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