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Tampa teen uses his business to thank teachers

He started EPIC Yard Cards and set up a surprise for educators at Sickles High School

WESTCHASE, Fla. — Andrew Buck saw a need at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. He wanted to help kids who couldn’t celebrate birthdays or graduations and help grandparents who were cut off from the outside world. He started his own business for yard greeting cards.

“It just blew up,” he said.

He gets some help from his family with installation and designs, but he runs the business by himself; and he’s only 16.

“It’s really fun. I mean going out at night, it’s kind of like your Santa Claus,” he said.

Usually, under the cover of darkness, he sets up giant yard displays with messages for birthday wishes or graduation congratulations. He says while he makes money, he makes more by seeing the joy he’s created.

“It’s been tough mentally. You’re just cut right out of life, and it’s just been fantastic seeing all of the joy that we bring to people in this time of pandemic,” he said.

That sparked an idea to show teachers near his Waterchase neighborhood just how much they are appreciated.  

“Now they’re going back to real life and that’s really difficult. Some of them aren’t even comfortable with that, but they have to do what they have to do. Showing that we thank them and we know what they’re going through is really important to get things back on track,” he said.

He donated his time and signs for a surprise greeting at Sickles High School.  A giant message that read: “WELCOME BACK TEACHERS” was on display as teachers returned for their first day back since March.

“Their first day back is probably going to be the hardest, and we wanted to be right there and say, ‘Hey, welcome back. I know things are really hard but we’re right there with you,’” he said.

Then, feeling he could do more, he added more. He switched out the signs, and in the process, one teacher caught him and shared just how much those messages mean.

“His smile was great. He said that it made his week and just that one reaction is all you need. It made me want to do it more. We have to show them that we're there with them through this change, and we're there to help,” he said.

Andrew also is using his business to give back to another cause. His younger brother, Ethan, has Lyme Disease.  Andrew donates a portion of what he makes to the Lyme Disease Association. He says it’s to help those living with the disease, to raise awareness and help those who might be impacted in the future.

This story was inspired by a local resident who let Courtney Robinson know about the good happening for teachers in their neighborhood on Nextdoor. Share your stories of joy and hope with her.  You can click here to see and comment on Courtney’s Nextdoor posts or just search “Courtney Robinson 10 Tampa Bay” from your mobile Nextdoor app. 

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