New student organization utilizes artistic talents while helping soldiers

Courtesy Photo/Fashion Has Heart

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo/Fashion Has Heart

Kendal Pektas

After his wife’s fashion-loving cousin was killed in Afghanistan last year, Michael Hyacinthe decided he wanted to start an organization on his behalf to honor the troops.

So Hyacinthe, a Grand Valley State University junior and a military veteran himself, began Fashion Has HeART five months ago.

The program incorporates people of fashion- and art-oriented backgrounds in building relationships with brands that would allow the FHH logo to be featured on their products. The proceeds from the sales of these items will then go to support programs such as Mary Free Bed’s Wounded Warriors Traumatic Brain Injury Project.

“Stereotypically, the creative (community) isn’t very aware of the military efforts,” said Tyler Way, a Fashion Has Heart board member.

Hyacinthe said he believes it is very important to recognize and give back to soldiers for defending freedoms – including the freedom of fashion and art.

“The ability to express yourself creatively is because there is a soldier who is out there fighting for our freedom,” Hyacinthe said. “Without their sacrifice, there is no freedom of fashion or art.”

As a non-profit organization, Fashion Has HeART’s purpose is to provide programs that aid wounded U.S. troops and their families through the recovery process after they have served.

The organization is currently holding a t-shirt design contest, HeartContest.

The designs to be entered should have a U.S. Armed Forces theme. Designs can be submitted online at through Friday.

Voting will take place from Sep. 5 to Oct. 9 on the same website.

The first place winner will receive $500, the second place winner will receive $250 and the third place winner will receive $150. Profits made off of t-shirt sales will go to Mary Free Bed’s Wounded Warriors Project.

“The primary way that Fashion Has Heart accomplishes raising funds is through code branding with existing brands,” said Ray Bauer, coordinator of HeartContest. “The t-shirt design contest enables us to gather more designs to be able to sell and brand out for ourselves as well as providing another portal for donations.”

Recently, Fashion Has Heart formed a partnership with the Amway Grand Plaza. Amway will be donating all proceeds from the sales of the shirt to support troops who receive treatment from the Wounded Warrior project.

To make a donation or to learn more information, visit

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