Tampa Bay Lightning employee turned side hustle into pandemic solution

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Posted at 10:42 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 03:04:50-04

TAMPA, Fla. — As the Lightning continue their quest for the cup, we’re learning how a Vinik Sports Group employee made a big difference in helping local nonprofits during the height of the pandemic.

Bryce Huffman is a network administrator for Lightning’s parent company, Vinik Sports Group.

“Anything that’s connected to the internet, that would be something I have to work with and make sure it’s 100 percent for every event,” said Huffman.

RELATED: Tampa Bay Lightning employee producing masks from 3D printer

When the lockdown hit in 2020, the I.T. whiz turned his hobby and side hustle into creating a solution for a growing need.

“When I first saw masks were in high demand, there was nothing available at stores at that time. You couldn’t go anywhere, you couldn’t get any masks," he said.

Huffman put his 15 3D printers to work, churning out more than 800 masks for area nonprofits.

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More than half of his supply went to Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA. At the time, the Y had transitioned into providing relief care for children of essential workers.

They were in desperate need of protective gear while caring for more than 7,000 children every weekday.

“There really wasn’t a whole lot of supply out there at the time and so it was very critical, it was very helpful to us and it was a blessing for us to have that,” said Scott Barnhard with Tampa YMCA.

Huffman tells ABC Action News Vinik Sports Group not only encouraged his passion project helping others, but also covered the cost of materials and distribution.

“That’s such a gratifying feeling,” said Huffman. “I just wanted to help the community and the fact that they went to such a good cause, just makes me feel like what I did was so much more valid.”