Campus Kindness: Social distancing T-shirts provide levity while giving Houstonians in need a lift

Alese shirts feature

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of features on Rice Owls contributing to the fight against COVID-19. Read more here.

Alese Pickering is making sure people get the message loud and clear about the importance of staying six feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — and the importance of supporting those in need during the pandemic.

Alese shirts feature
Rice Magazine art director Alese Pickering designed shirts to promote social distancing. Sales benefit the Houston Food Bank and Houston Shift Meal.

She and her partner have created a T-shirt that screams: “KEEP YOUR SOCIAL DISTANCE.” The crew neck shirt comes in gray, red, gold and white and sells for $24.99 at, with proceeds benefiting the Houston Food Bank and Houston Shift Meal, a new group that is working with Houston restaurants to make meals for hospitality workers who have lost their jobs.

As the art director for Rice Magazine, Pickering used her professional skills to design the shirt.

“The letters are intentionally spaced out as a nod to the physical distance we are keeping,” she said. “We decided that the text should be big, bold and red — an emphatic command to stay back.”

Pickering said she got the idea in mid-March after the Houston Food Bank asked the public for donations to help feed people in quarantine. As of April 6, 65 shirts have been sold. Half of the proceeds ($364 so far) go to the food bank. Sales have generated $100 for Houston Shift Meal.

“We got the idea to make the T-shirts to provide a sense of levity and community around this shared experience,” she said.