Church leaders upset after t-shirt companies capitalize on #2069

Church leaders upset after t-shirt companies capitalize on #2069

WRENTHAM, Mass. — A controversy is brewing over what started as an innocent effort to bring awareness to others about the lives lost last year to opioid overdoses symbolized in #2069 signs.

It’s a story Boston 25 News reporter Evan White first shared two weeks ago, he’s now learning companies are trying to profit off the idea.

Church leaders in Wrentham who developed the concept and told White they are not happy with what’s happened.

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“It seemed to a lot of people that it was just so unfair, so opportunistic and it just really just was not what we had in mind,” Rev. Ron Tibbetts said.

While nothing illegal happened, it’s the principal of the incident that has leaders at the Trinity Episcopal Church upset.

When Tibbetts and others began the program, the official number for people who died of opioids in 2016 was 2,069, new statistics show that the actual number of deaths is over 2,100.

Signs with #2069 were part of an awareness effort that had spread across the state from Cape Cod to Belchertown.

Boston 25 news learned shortly after our initial story on the signs, that local companies were trying to capitalize on #2069, unrelated to this church effort.

Tibbetts said a Cape Cod company and others posted ads online selling #2069 items.

“At least three or four t-shirt printing companies offering to put the signs up for us and never has there been an offer to split the profit to do anything to make a commitment to a recovery center,” he said.

It doesn’t sit well with community members who support the #2069 awareness campaign.

“I think it's really sad people are taking advantage of that,” Wrentham resident Erin Scott said.

The shirt company that posted the ad apologized to Tibbetts. Boston 25 News reached out for comment but has not received a response.