Over the past few weeks, I’ve brought you two separate articles (initial story | follow up) about Amanda Bratten (Amanda Nicole online) and the t-shirts she had made and was to deliver to the families of individuals who took their own lives.
The idea behind these t-shirts was a simple one: display the names of those who have taken their own lives and use this a way to raise awareness about suicide and suicide prevention.
Amanda Bratten eventually ordered seven hundred t-shirts from Proper Print Shop in El Paso. After a few sessions over the design on the shirts, they were printed and picked-up by Amanda. That’s when that nightmare began for so many people.
People were excited that the shirts were printed and would soon be on their way. They paid their money via GoFundMe, PayPal and through Facebook.
Then, the wait began.
To be fair, some did receive their promised shirts.
However, a larger number did not receive anything. When they asked where their shirts were, or for a refund, they were allegedly blocked and unable to contact Amanda Nicole.
When Amanda Nicole first approached me about what was happening to her, she alleged that people were bullying her.
Yet, in all the screenshots Amanda sent to support her version of the story, several were people were alleging that she collected money and never sent the shirts out.
It was time to play devil’s advocate, to see what I could find.
The stories I heard were sad. I learned that so many people have lost a loved and thought that this would be a way to honor their memory and spread awareness. People in New Zealand, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom, Canada and all over the United States submitted the names of loved ones for inclusion.
They say this a way to reach out to others with their stories of loss and pain in hopes of saving just one life.
I have heard stories and seen screenshots of conversations where Amanda Nicole would belittle these people when they asked for tracking numbers or ask if the shirts were sent. I’ve seen screenshots were Amanda Nicole would turn around and tell people to stop contacting her, that she was blocking them, that they were getting nothing.
She told people that their t-shirts were shipped, that they were on their way.
Over the span of three weeks, Amanda was given multiple opportunities to respond to the many allegations brought up in the story. She instead said she was blocked by me, and then turned to her group of supporters to rally against the stories and allege that I and the Herald Post were lying, slandering and/or libeling her.
And then the odd, anonymous calls began, saying that I “didn’t know who I was dealing with.”
Then, out of the blue, Daniel Bratten – her husband – calls me.
In his voice message, he indicates that they have about five hundred t-shirts left and asked if I would be willing to take them off his hands. When I called him back, I indicated that the El Paso Herald Post could not, but that I would make arrangements with Proper Print Shop to act as a middle man on this.
I thought it would be a good place for the shirts to go as Proper Print Shop is working with Ashley Anderson, of the group of families, to help get shirts to those who paid but never received them.
Once I had everyone on board, I let Daniel know that Proper would take them. That drop off was set for Tuesday, January 22nd. Daniel was not able to keep that appointment, letting me know that it would happen on Wednesday the 23rd of January instead.
On Wednesday, while working other aspects of this story, I decided to stop by Proper Print Shop and talk with Alan, one of the co-owners. Before getting out of my car, I sent Danial a text to ask if he was coming by. To my surprise, he sent a text back saying he was already there with many boxes. Large boxes full of shirts.
In an earlier call, Daniel had already indicated that he had them, and some of the reasons they hadn’t been shipped.
“We had tons of shirts left over that weren’t paid for,” Daniel said in that phone call. “So, I mean I have boxes that still need to be shipped out. People haven’t been able to get their stuff. But uh, as far as it goes, there’s still tons of shirts that were never paid for, period.”
Still, I have that email from Amanda that says, “I paid for the shirts. I sent the shirts.”
Why am I bringing that up again? Simple.
In addition to the larger boxes of shirts there were forty boxes and plastic envelopes packaged, addressed and ready to be shipped out.
For example, there is one for Regina. Regina paid $102 for her order, and on November 4, 2018, Amanda Nicole indicated that the
package would be shipped out the next day, the 5th of November.
On November 6, 2018, Amanda messaged Regina, saying, “I’m so sorry you’ve waited for so long. Hopefully, shipping won’t take too much longer.”
Almost three months later, and the package was still at the home of Amanda and Daniel Bratten, and now at Proper Print Shop.
On Wednesday, Daniel did say that they “simply ran out of money and could not ship those packages.”
So, what’s going to happen now?
First, the large boxes of t-shirts are going to be inventoried and sorted by size.
“We have to see what we have, what was given to us,” said Alan of Proper Print Shop. “Then we have to somehow get a list of who ordered what.”
Proper Print Shop will be working with Ashley to ensure that those who paid for shirts will receive what they ordered.
She’s also going to be paying to ship out the forty boxes that are addressed and labelled – I’ll be helping her with that as well.
“We’re also working on plans to provide a way for those who want to order extras to do so,” Alan said. “We’ll also be working on a way for other to help cover the cost of shipping these other, unboxed shirts out.”
“I feel sorry for a lot of people,” Ashley added. “They ordered shirts and were told they were sent. Like the one for me. Amanda told me it was shipped and that she sent another one. There it is, left off by her husband.”
What started out, on my end as one story very quickly morphed into another. At the end of the day, there is, thankfully, a light at the end of the tunnel for some.
Shirts will be going out, the ones boxed and addressed, starting on Monday. Between Ashley and Alan of Proper Print Shop, solutions will be found for the others.
If you would like to help in getting these out, I encourage you to contact Proper Print Shop at firstname.lastname@example.org or Ashley Anderson at email@example.com