Tide For Troops spreads school pride overseas

Elayne Smith

The phrase “Roll Tide,” often heard at The University of Alabama has now traveled across the globe in the form of a T-shirt.

The nonprofit organization Tide for Troops has sent more than 6,500 “Can I Get a Roll Tide” T-shirts to military members. Each member gets to apply for one shirt, which is sent to them along with a thank-you note.

Justin Crisler, president of Tide for Troops, said the goal is to give people in the military a moment to smile.

“I just like knowing that the military men and women can enjoy getting something from home, and they can have a good time thinking about that shirt and feeling a little bit of pride while they’re serving their country,” Crisler said. “That’s the main concept of this idea, to show appreciation to the troops and help them know that there are people thinking about them in the form of a T-shirt.”

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Crisler said the idea came after posting a T-shirt design on his Facebook page called “Can I Get a Roll Tide?”A contractor stationed in Afghanistan saw the design and asked if Crisler could send shirts to him and his battalion. When Crisler got the pictures back of the group wearing his shirts, he said he decided the idea was worth pursuing.

“I know what a T-shirt means to them, so I hope to relay that message to [people], and they can find out that we can all help out and boost morale in the military if we can all jump onboard with this,” Crisler said.

The compassion makes the shirt stand out from other online purchases, said Steven Thompson, a UA alumnus and a first lieutenant and infantry platoon leader serving in Fort Stewart, Ga. Thompson asked for a shirt after a friend sent him the link.

“Being deployed, it’s a pretty big deal because you’re so far away,” Thompson said. “To know that someone is doing all this for you back here without knowing you and then to receive it is an amazing feeling, to know that someone back here is thinking so much of you to actually mail it to Afghanistan.”

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Tide for Troops holds various fundraisers to raise money for the organization. Crisler also sets up a tent before football games to raise awareness and sell shirts.

The Crimson Tide’s softball team also supports Tide for Troops. Kate Harris, director of operations for the team, connected with the organization after her brother received a shirt.

“I think the Tide for Troops ‘Can I get a Roll Tide’ T-shirts are a great example of how we celebrate life, being Alabama fans for example, and how we are able to do so all because of our brave men and women serving and defending our freedoms every single day,” Harris said. “It brings a smile to their face, I think, and it’s just something fun. During football season, even though they can’t watch the games, when they’re doing their workouts, they can throw on their Alabama shirt.”

Crisler said he hopes to get other schools involved to expand the group’s reach. His next event is April 19 at University Mall, where he will hand out free shirts to active duty military members from 4:30 to 6 p.m. He is also working on a new T-shirt design to keep the organization moving forward.

“If they’re serving our country and they’re also a fan of the Alabama Crimson Tide, then our T-shirt designs will fit the need, we hope, and make them happy,” Crisler said.

(See also “Students honor soldiers through Operation Gratitude“)