This past weekend merch tables lined the boardwalk and street in front of the Asbury Park Convention Hall for the 2012 Bamboozle Festival. Selling everything from t-shirts, posters, band merch and jewelry, there was one table offering more than just a product. To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA), a non-profit movement dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide was at the music festival, selling t-shirts and raising awareness.
At Bamboozle I had a chance to talk with Chloe Grabanski, Director of fundraising and supporter relations of TWLOHA about the organization, and the influence that music and festivals have had on it.
At their merch table, which was located on the road right before the Main Stage, Chloe explained the use of their line of clothing. We're primarily funded through the sale of merchandise, she said while finishing organizing the booth before the masses stormed through.
The story of TWLOHA is a heartwarming one, beginning with founder Jamie Tworkwski making t-shirts to help pay for treatment for Renee Yohe, a then 19-year-old girl who suffered from addiction and self-injury. The t-shirts eventually took off, allowing Renee's treatment to be covered.
Jon [Foreman] from Switchfoot was actually the first person to wear the TWLOHA shirt, Chloe says as the area around us slowly begins to fill in. He continued to wear it on their  Up In Arms Tour.
Due to the exposure at concert venues, Jamie started hearing from people all over on their MySpace. It really grew from that, and he realized hey this is a really great way to fund the work we do, Chloe tells me with an obvious passion about her job.
Chloe, along with the team working with her at Bamboozle are proudly rocking the shirts, which come in all sorts of styles, color and designs. Throughout the day dozens walk through the venue, wearing the shirts and getting their hands on a piece of the movement.
It's great because it's a conversation starter, she says while looking at the merch behind her. So when you see someone wearing the shirt, you can say 'oh what is that?' and then they can then tell somebody about it.
While communicating at a concert or festival can be difficult due to noise levels, TWLOHA has found great success. Walking by their table at numerous points of the festival, their tent seemed to have a never ending stream of new people looking to learn and support. Bamboozle and festival viewers are not the only ones that seem to want a piece of the action though. Like Switchfoot in 2008, bands want to get involved with the movement.
You go out and do an event and you meet a band and they ask what it is, Chloe says of gathering support from those in the music industry. They think we are a band and were not at all. Once bands find out what we're about they buy a shirt.
Renee, who the story of TWLOHA is inspired by, has recently formed her own band, BEARCAT. She's been doing her own thing, says Chloe talking of Renee. Since her successful treatment, Renee has wrote a book, Purpose For The Pain, and a movie, Renee, based on her true story and starring Kat Dennings and Chad Michael Murray is set to be released this year.
She's really doing her own thing so she can have an identity outside of TWLOHA, explains Chloe about Renee and BEARCAT. She's the first person to say, 'My stories not unique, there are so many people going through the things I went through.' We're so excited and happy for her.
If you didn't get a chance to swing by the TWLOHA tent last weekend at Bamboozle, have no fear. To Write Love On Her Arms will be at numerous festivals throughout the summer, including Warped Tour. We've been doing that for the past five years, says Chloe of Warped Tour. It's a great way to reach people.
Depression - it's not talked about, she explains. Even if we can get the information in their hands and then they can go home and look at it. We're always there to talk to people if they want to talk, Chloe says of TWLOHA role at festivals. We're not trained professionals, but we work with a lot of them. We point [those looking for help] to resources. We have responded to over 170,000 messages from 100 countries, and we donated one million to treatment and recovery.
We want people to know they're not alone. It's okay to talk about this. There is nothing wrong with you. We always want them to know there is a place they can go.
To learn more about the To Write Love On Her Arms movement visit www.TWLOHA.com.