Counterfeit: ‘Spartan Strong’ t-shirts found at thrift store

DELTA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) – A local thrift store has removed t-shirts from its sales floor because they may be counterfeit.

Volunteers of America thrift store in Delta Township removed the t-shirts after 6 News learned the university considered the shirts “to be unlicensed and considered counterfeit.”

6 News discovered two racks of t-shirts emblazoned with the phrases ‘Spartan Strong” and “We are in this together.” Photos of the t-shirts were sent to MSU spokeswoman Emily Guerrant on Sunday.

“The merchandise appears to us to be unlicensed and considered counterfeit,” Guerrant tells 6 News in a Monday email. “The university is reporting the merchandise to our licensing agency and will pursue legal actions to ensure the products are removed.”

VOA accepts donations and sells the items people donate.

When contacted by 6 News, a manager for the Delta Township Volunteers of America location said the t-shirts would be removed immediately.

6 News has left a message for the district manager and reached out to the state headquarters for comment. This story will be updated if they respond to inquiries.

The t-shirts and phrase “Spartan Strong,” were introduced in the wake of the February 13, 2023, mass shooting on campus that left three dead and five injured. T-shirts with the phrase were licensed by the university and sold to raise money to provide support for the victims and their families and provide support to the Spartan community.

On Feb. 21, 2023, just days after the tragedy, MSU officials warned about counterfeit items. At the time, officials said they could not verify if the money raised by the sale of t-shirts would benefit the Spartan Strong Fund.

In 2023, the fund raised $2 million from more than 4,200 donors to support the community. The fund is no longer accepting donations.

This month, officials announced how the $2 million fund would be distributed.

  • $1M of the fund will help support those most directly impacted by the tragedy. This includes resources for physically injured students’ undergraduate careers, supportive measure and financial resources to approximately 50 physically uninjured who were present in either of the two first-floor Berkey Hall classrooms or the food court kitchen inside the MSU Union. A portion of the funding also will assist families of the deceased with needs that are unmet by state and federal crime victim compensation funds.

  • $500,000 is being used to reimburse or directly pay for student, faculty, staff and first responder mental health care services.

  • $300,000 through any remaining funds will go toward the creation and installation of a permanent memorial on MSU’s campus.

”It’s unfortunate to see scammers take advantage of the tragedy from Feb. 13, 2023,” Guerrant wrote in a statement to 6 News. “We saw an uptick in these efforts a year ago, not long after the shooting on campus and we issued consumer alert warnings to help those who wanted to help and support the university be more vigilant in unlicensed Spartan Strong products. In some cases, stores unknowingly are victims of these scam efforts and unscrupulous business campaigns, too.”

The university asks anyone who believes they have seen products or services that may not be licensed by MSU, to email the University Licensing Programs at licensing@union.msu.edu or call 517-355-3434.

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