Printer Responds With Act of Kindness Following Parkland Mass Shooting
Thomas Horne calls a print job his company executed this past Valentine’s Day “the hardest day for me as a printer.”
It wasn’t the technical aspect of the job that challenged the employees of A-Plus Printing & Graphic Center, located in Plantation, Fla. It was the emotional aspect. On that day, 17 students and teachers from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., were killed in a mass shooting.
Upon hearing the news, Horne waited to hear from his two brothers, both of whom are police officers and are among the first responders.
“The rule in our family is to text everyone and let them know that they’re safe,” Horne says of major local crime events.
Assured of his brothers’ safety, Horne’s next action was to memorialize the deceased through a quick-turnaround print job of memorial and prayer cards for each student and staff member who perished.
“I’ve been through losses in my family and know how hard it is. This was a terrible tragedy,” notes Horne, whose father was also a law enforcement officer.
Within a day of the shooting, A-Plus Printing & Graphic Center employees came in at 6 a.m. to work on the job, spending hours trying to source the best photos and information about each of the deceased individuals in an effort led by Horne, business partner Rick Erens and a company graphic designer.
The employees ran the full-color, 12-pt. memorial and prayer cards with UV lamination on the shop’s KBA sheetfed offset presses.
After the project was completed, Horne and Sergeant Ana Murillo from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office traveled to the doorsteps of each of the impacted families to deliver the cards for their use.
The company also printed up an additional 5,000 cards for the city of Parkland to distribute throughout the local community.
There were some inherent challenges. Horne was operating on scant information and had to reprint some of the cards to correct some religious information.
Horne says the day of the mass school shooting was his hardest day because of seeing the reactions of his staff.
“We’re a large family business and never had to do a print job for so many people that had passed,” points out Horne, adding that everyone who touched the job - staff members like the graphic designer and the printing press and cutter operators - found it to be a gut-wrenching experience.
Horne’s advice to other printing operations that might find themselves in a similar position is for management to “be strong for your employees” at a time like that. “Employees are like family members,” he adds. “This becomes a team effort. That’s how we got these cards printed, boxed and delivered.”
Ultimately, the company’s work and efforts garnered accolades.
“I got a lot of phone calls from the families thanking me and our team members,” notes Horne, saying that it was “pretty awesome” to see the positive responses of various family members who he was able to greet at their doorsteps as he offered them the cards and his condolences.
Horne didn’t take a dime for the work.
“It was the right thing to do,” he stresses. “We were happy that we could help out.”