A young woman in Iowa has received a flood of adoration from strangers all across the country after she requested that firefighters cross country send her T-shirts to honor her dad – who happened to be a former firefighter himself – for a unique and special gift she’s making.
Alli Marois, 23, of Milo, Iowa, posted a video on the TikTok app explaining her project – a quilt – which she hopes to create from shirts highlighting logos from fire stations all over the U.S.
“The main reason that I started this was whenever we would go anywhere on a family vacation, he would get a T-shirt from a local fire department,” Marois told Fox News Digital. “I know he hasn’t been to all 50 states, so I figured why not just try something and try to get all 50 states for him?” Marois added, “There’s no way he could wear 50 shirts — so I decided to make a T-shirt quilt.”
Bill Collins, her father, resigned from the Des Moines Fire Department back in September 2021 after 38 years of service. In front of her father’s 61st birthday in August, Marois wanted to set up a unique birthday gift.
She began in February – and made a public announcement about it on TikTok. Marois wants to give her father a gift to honor his ‘passion for firefighting’.
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“He’s done it for 38 years, so I wanted to give him something that he would treasure forever,” his daughter said. “My dad has been one of my number-one supporters,” she added.
In her video on Tiktok, Marois explained that given her father’s retirement, she wanted “to accomplish something truly extraordinary for him.”
“So firefighters of TikTok, I’m asking you for your help to please send me a shirt from your state,” Marois said in her video. “I would love all of you to be a part of this journey.”
Additionally, Marois referenced how her dad gave almost forty years of his life in service as a firefighter.
“You know how some people are just born to do something?” Marois said in the video. “Well, my dad was born to be a firefighter.”
Her footage has gained more than 240,000 views since she first shared it in February. But the overall reaction was what left Marois shocked after she got T-shirts from every single fire station in all 50 states, and even more. Presently, Marois has 100 shirts and counting, including a couple from abroad fire departments in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Marois has received a ton of attention online, which meant she was unable to keep the entire project a secret from her father Collins. However, she said she’s actually maintaining some mystery.
“He hasn’t seen all the T-shirts or anything, so he won’t know what it’s going to look like until I actually give it to him,” Marois said.
Alongside the shirts, Alli Marois has received letters from firefighters and from widows of firefighters who died on 9/11. She’s let her dad know about the letters, but he hasn’t read them yet.
In order to include all the shirts she’s gotten from individuals, Marois said she’ll make the main side of the quilt out of the emblems from the fronts of the fire shirts.
She said she’ll incorporate the most striking back of the shirts designs for the underside of the quilt. With the scraps leftover, Marois said she’ll make puppy toys, thanks to a recommendation from a commenter on TikTok.
Marois said her original plan was to have the quilt done before her fathers’ birthday. However, this was before all the amazing flood of kindness on TikTok.
Due to the timeline speeding up a little, Marois said she’ll give her father the quilt as soon as it’s finished. With respect for the outpouring over social media, Marois said getting the shirts has been “a very humbling experience” and “heartwarming.”
“You wouldn’t really expect random strangers to help someone they don’t know,” Marois said. “As soon as all of these shirts started to come in, I got very emotional because people are helping someone they don’t even know,” she added. “They’ve never met me, they’ve never even talked to me.”