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Simple graduation announcements on yard signs are helping seniors across Gaston County stay optimistic while they miss their final days of high school.

Forestview High senior Laney Moran is selling and delivering graduation yard signs, made by Gaston Printing and Signs, to raise money for Share A Meal — a food pantry program feeding students at four Gaston County high schools.

It’s the second year Moran’s partnered with Gaston Printing and Signs for the fundraiser. Despite schools being closed and uncertainty over traditional commencements being held, Share A Meal has sold 250 signs and counting to seniors across Gaston County this year, a sizeable increase over last year.

As Moran and the 2020 senior class miss their final days walking down Forestview’s halls, going to prom and heading to Carowinds for the senior trip, she believes the signs have actually filled an important void.

“The yard signs were going to be such a minuscule part of all of that,” Moran said. “I think to a lot of seniors, it doesn’t feel like [we’re graduating] because everything has been put on hold. It’s been fun to drop them (signs) off and be able to make a senior’s day and remind them that it’s happening.”

Class of 2020 graduates are all in the same boat, which makes coping with cancellations a little easier, Moran said.

“All seniors, high school and college, are going through the same thing, but I think it helps to know that everyone across the world is missing out during this time.”

While overall business at Gaston Printing and Signs has dwindled, owner Chris Etherton said at 950 sign orders so far, he’s never sold more grad signs in his 23 years of printing. He’s happy to help bring joy to graduates.

“I’ve never seen yard signs sell like this,” he said. “This little niche with these signs are helping us and helping the community.”

Moran said the fundraiser marks a win across the board. Etherton gets business, seniors get something to display their accomplishment and Share A Meal benefits from it.

Moran, who will attend UNC Charlotte in the fall, is taking sign orders from college and high school seniors until May 22. Those who purchase yard signs are helping stock pantries at Crisis Assistance Ministry in Gastonia, as well as Hunter Huss, Forestview, East Gaston and Ashbrook high schools.

Share A Meal hasn’t reached many students in need since schools closed in March, but Moran said funds are still needed to keep Share A Meal alive in Gaston County for years to come.

“We can save this money for when there is a time that we’re able to access more students in need,” Moran said.

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