Bernie Sanders: Memes for Charity!

Written by: Amadine 

Edited by: Leela 

Visual by: Yana

Former presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders the Senator of Vermont, has become an internet sensation once again as a photograph of him seated at Pres. Joe Biden’s Inauguration – arms crossed, wearing oversized mittens – has been circulating the media and has since become an iconic meme that our entire generation is apart of. An NYU student has even created a website where you can put Sanders into any iconic scene and setting from famous films, artworks and such. 

An example of some Bernie Sanders’ memes created by netizens

On top of his stylistic genius, Sanders has turned his viral meme into a charitable opportunity. Sanders and Getty Images collaborated on a licensing agreement to make official merchandise with the viral photo, and the merchandise sold out in mere minutes. From this, Bernie and his team accumulated almost $2 million, which was all donated to various charities in the state of Vermont. The proceeds went to the following groups:

  •  ‘Meals on Wheels’ – “a program that delivers meals to individuals at home who are unable to purchase or prepare their own meals” 
  • Feeding Chittenden – “a cause dedicated to alleviating world hunger and cultivating opportunities for those in poverty” 
  • The Vermont Parent Child Center Network – “a network of 15 centers that help families make sure children get off to a healthy start” 
  • The Chill Foundation – an organization “which inspires youth to overcome challenges through boardsports” 
  • and The Bi-State Primary Care Association – “a nonprofit that represents New Hampshire and Vermont’s 28 Community Health Centers”

All these charities are Vermont-based and all align with Bernie’s political standpoint. A common pattern is seen in the way that these different groups target issues surrounding world hunger, connections in society, the youth and health. Additionally, all the funds will be distributed in helping to alleviate these problems one step at a time. These organizations were chosen personally to combat issues that Bernie himself believes in, as demonstrated by his decision in choice of the various groups. 

In a joint statement, Bernie and his wife, Jane Sanders – a social worker, activist and political strategist, expressed their gratitude to the public stating they were,“amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week, and we’re glad we can use internet fame to help Vermonters in need.” Students from our very own school have also had a lot to say about this. “I actually didn’t know that there was merchandise of the meme being sold, but I love that whole idea!” said Madison, a freshman. “I’ve seen so many edited memes about Bernie on my explore page.” Maxine, another freshman, also spoke out, “Haha! He’s so cool. I love that he was able to donate $1.8 million to charity!” 

Onto his viral fit, his Jacket, as a part of a limited edition clothing line, was designed by  Burlington-based “Burton Snowboards’ ‘ and his mittens were given to him personally by a teacher in Vermont who had made them with repurposed wool from sweaters made by Jen Ellis. Upon seeing him at the inauguration, she expressed shock that he had actually worn the mittens. Having heard his clothing choices had become a viral sensation, Sanders used the media attention to bring focus to the issues that mattered most to him and the eco-conscious makers of his clothes, saying, “we make good mittens in Vermont.”

A tee with the meme printed on it, one of many being sold by Bernie and his team 


“Bernie Sanders’ Mittens, Memes Help Raise $1.8M for Charity.” The Peninsula Qatar, 2019,,-memes-help-raise-$1.8M-for-charity. Accessed 7 Feb. 2021.

Fernandez, Celia. “Bernie Sanders Turned His Inauguration Meme into a Sweatshirt to Raise Money for Charity.”, Yahoo News, 22 Jan. 2021, Accessed 7 Feb. 2021.

Rathke, Lisa. “Bernie Sanders’ Mittens, Memes Help Raise $1.8M for Charity.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 27 Jan. 2021, Accessed 7 Feb. 2021.