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Nicky Christopher just wanted to cheer up people in the neighborhood.

While most of the country was in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 12-year-old Lower Makefield resident began decorating the lawns of Yardley area homes to help the community celebrate birthdays and other festivities.

More than 200 homes later, the Pennwood middle schooler is now using his business, Birthday Lawn Bandit, to help others in need by donating proceeds of sales to local nonprofits.

“You get to make someone else happy, and that makes me happy,” Nicky said.

Since starting the business in March with the help of friends, Nicky has used money he’s earned to help local charities during the pandemic. 

The efforts began as a way to pass the time while stuck in quarantine, said Nicky’s mother, Sara Christopher.

“When we all went into quarantine, nobody could do anything — no birthdays, no parties, no anything,” she said. “We had a friend who was celebrating a sweet 16 and her mom reached out to me asking if we had balloons. So ultimately what we decided to do was bring balloons to her, and Nicky realized it would be cool to do it for some of his friends.”

Nicky then helped his friend who was upset he couldn’t have a birthday by bringing him some balloons.

Slowly the efforts grew from balloons to signs and other decorations on the lawns for people throughout Lower Bucks County, his mother said. 

“We would take whatever we had and make stuff with it, but then people starting giving him tips,” she said.

Along with money from the “birthday raids,” Nicky is using donations from the community to help children that can’t afford a birthday celebration, Sara Christopher said. 

“It just seems like we’re getting the community together,” she said, adding three of Nicky’s friends help with him with raids. “The community would send balloons to him and other stuff, and it just started rolling bigger and bigger.”

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While some proceeds have gone back into funding the business, the majority of the money is used to help local nonprofits. This includes Four the Paws Animal Rescue and Alpha Bravo Canine, which trains service dogs for veterans, as well as RAINN, which helps sexual abuse victims.

Those efforts have received national recognition; Nicky’s efforts were honored on the floor of Congress by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1, of Middletown. 

Nicky Christopher, 12, of Lower Makefield, holds an American flag presented to him by Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.

For Sara Christopher, the business shows the resilience of her son who was diagnosed with autism an an early age.

“My son was first diagnosed with autism in first grade, so it’s interesting that a kid who couldn’t look you in the eye once is celebrating everyone’s birthday,” she said.

Sara Christopher said Nicky became motivated to help classmates celebrate when the pandemic first started in the spring.

“During that time in March and April, it was pretty gloomy,” she said. “There wasn’t much for him to do, so this was a good way for him to get out, spread some cheer and feel good about himself and feel useful.”

She said the celebrations have meant a lot to people, including one girl who was brought to tears during her birthday raid. 

“It really has brought a lot of good into our community,” she said.

For Nicky, helping others has made all the worthwhile.

“The best part is the joy that it makes you feel inside,” he said.

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