Spreading love with tie-dye

Davison Avenue PTA goes digital for annual school clothing drive in Malverne


Davison Avenue Intermediate School PTA Co-president Camille Emeagwali described 2020 as the year of innovation. The PTA followed that motto, making adjustments to its fundraisers throughout the year, including its recent clothing drive.

“In a normal school year, we would run these fundraisers through the school,” Emeagwali explained. “We would get the apparel and deliver it at the school for people to take it home. But now that everything is online, we’re actually able to spread that Malverne love further than the borders of the village.”

Emeagwali and Co-president Hayley Kelch are both in their first year as Davison PTA members, with children who previously attended Maurice W. Downing Primary School. When transitioning from one school to another, Emeagwali said, her predecessors would share a “playbook” on events and programs to run throughout the year. Because of the pandemic, however, they had to come up with a few audibles.

“We really had to put our creative hats on and think about how to effectively engage the community and students,” she said.

One of the changes, Kelch said, was keeping up with current clothing trends, like tie-dyeing. Last month, Kelch came across To Tie-Dye for Clothing, a small business run by Lynbrook resident Marion Schwaner. Kelch said that the reinvention of the school’s events created something of a silver lining.

“It was so nice to know that we were working with a local business to help her get off the ground,” Kelch said. “One of the things we’ve also learned in 2020 is the importance of supporting local businesses, so that whole aspect of this was just great.”

Schwaner, 26, started her business early this summer, and began making tie-dyed facemasks and other clothing items. Then she began branching out, and now she creates items including bathing suits, baby onesies, sweatshirts, shorts, T-shirts, clothing for pets and more. She also produces masks with themes such as breast cancer awareness, Halloween and school logos, which caught Kelch’s attention.

“I started posting my tie-dye items in the local Facebook groups, and it started catching a lot people’s attention,” Schwaner recalled. “The teachers and parents in Lynbrook liked it and starting buying it, and it kind of blossomed into the school PTAs.”

She was working in public relations, she said, when the coronavirus pandemic hit, and she was unexpectedly laid off. She decided to turn to her childhood passion of creating tie-dye clothing, and has since featured her material at numerous fairs. Schwaner said she invested in a couple of machines to help create the items out of vinyl, and noted that while her friends and her mother pitch in to help, she mostly works alone. She created 150 masks for Davison Avenue, along with dozens of tie-dyed clothing items.

“People and alumni from as far as North Carolina still want to represent Malverne,” Emeagwali said. “We’re just so grateful that the community is still highly supportive. We’re here as a resource and a partner to the district, and it’s exciting just to serve the community.”

The Davison PTA expects to raise $800 through the fundraiser, which ended earlier this month. For those still interested in purchasing apparel or masks, go to https://bit.ly/2KLCwQ6.

“The families always love showing school spirit through apparel,” Kelch said, “and this year we saw the same enthusiasm. It’s just been for the kids and the families to show their school pride.”