Published On: Fri, Apr 10th, 2020

Local teenagers create hand sanitizer business to help others amidst COVID-19 pandemic

Juniors Matthew Russo (left) and Nicholas Horowitz (right) making the hand sanitizer.

Since the coronavirus pandemic has prompted students, regardless of grade and location, to switch from learning in the classroom to learning remotely online, in-person interaction has disappeared, leaving parents to wonder how they can keep their children busy and entertained.

Whether it’s watching TV and movies, playing video games and board games, or doing any other inside activities, boredom has been difficult to deal with. However, for Saint Andrew’s School juniors Nicholas Horowitz and Matthew Russo they have managed to keep busy better than most high schoolers or adults, for that matter, could have imagined: creating a business.

This business that Horowitz, 17, and Russo, 16, have established isn’t just an ordinary lemonade stand or bake sale, but rather selling bottles of hand sanitizer in a time where cleanliness is of the utmost importance. 

Due to most grocery and pharmaceutical stores across the United States having scarce supply of hand sanitizer and even e-commerce platforms, such as eBay, having to ban hand sanitizer sales to stop price gouging, the two high school boys decided the best way to give back to the Boca Raton community was creating and selling hand sanitizer of their own.

“[A couple weeks ago] my mom was waiting on a line out the door at Costco on Congress Avenue for a truck that may or may not have had hand sanitizer,” Russo said. “When she told me it was a waste of time and that she couldn’t get hand sanitizer, I told my friend Nick and he had the same experience, so we said why don’t we make our own hand sanitizer.”

As the boys have been friends since their freshman year at Saint Andrews, they never liked science as much as they do this year, specifically with chemistry, in which they are currently enrolled in Advanced Placement Chemistry, instructed by teacher Ms. Paula Martin. 

Through Martin’s suggestions on how to synthesize hand sanitizer, Horowitz and Russo were inspired to create and improve the supply of it immediately, and with Martin’s permission to borrow the necessary laboratory equipment, the two partnered together and got right to work.

“We each wanted to do it and we knew the best way to do it was with each other because we both have family members in need of [hand sanitizer],” Horowitz said. “One of the first people we went to was [Ms. Martin] and she said to go for it.”

By combining rubbing alcohol, aloe vera gel, and glycerin, Horowitz and Russo were able to create gallons of hand sanitizer and through packaging purchased online and a designed logo, their business, titled “Purificate,” was born. The hand sanitizer is sold in 1.6 ounce bottles and can be used up to 40 times, according to Horowitz.

The 1.6 ounce bottles can be seen here with each showing “Purificate’s” logo.

“We had to make a lot of [hand sanitizer] to figure out the percentage of aloe, glycerin, and alcohol we wanted, but as we tested it with our families and friends, we understood what it was like,” Horowitz said. “So far, people have loved it [and] are putting it in Easter baskets and buying it in big amounts.”

To ensure social distancing continues in order to reduce further spread of the coronavirus, the boys have been driving and delivering the hand sanitizer to customers all throughout Boca Raton and leaving it at their front doors. As a result, Horowitz and Russo estimate they have received around $1,500 in profit in only three weeks of operating the business.

In keeping up with the demand for hand sanitizer, the boys have also partnered with organic food and drink company, Raw Juce, to have their 1.6 ounce bottles sold in their Boca Raton stores. Also, for those that would like larger amounts, according to Russo, they have started to make four ounce containers.

“We contacted [Raw Juce] and since they’re not closed down, they said they would be more than happy to take our product and it just happened,” Russo said.

With Purificate already profiting, one may think high school boys would keep the money for themselves. Despite this misconception, Horowitz and Ruso each agreed to donate a majority of the profits to charities of their choice, but not until the pandemic slows down, as they keep selling their hand sanitizer daily.

Due to volunteering in the Boca Raton community when they were younger, the boys chose charities on a larger scale, in which Horowitz went with the American Red Cross, who provide emergency assistance in times like these, and Russo decided on 211, which also helps to give resources to those in need, such as food and shelter.

Even though there is uncertainty of how long Purificate will be able to continue generating profits, Horowitz and Russo have even expressed interest into creating other household disinfectant cleaners too, and while they still have roughly another year before graduating high school and going off to college, they will further learn more about running a business in hopes of being able keep their business going for the foreseeable future.

“We thought [Purificate] would be just a tiny business, but it’s grown and we want to continue it,” Horowitz said. “When you have an idea, just go for it, and put that plan into action.”

For purchasing inquiries and other questions, please direct them to [email protected]

About the Author

- Justin Baronoff is currently a junior at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL. He is pursuing a major in Multimedia Journalism, where he hopes to some day write for major news media publications, such as the New York Times, ESPN, or even Billboard Magazine. In high school, Justin wrote for his high school newspaper for three years where he was a staff reporter for the first two years before becoming the Sports Editor in his final year. At FAU during the first semester of his sophomore year, he began interning for isportsweb.com, where he wrote about and covered his favorite professional football team, the New York Jets, and his favorite professional basketball team, the New York Knicks. Then during his second semester of his sophomore year, he began writing for FAU's student newspaper, the University Press, as a contributing writer. Justin now serves a News Writer Intern for the Boca Raton Tribune.

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