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Information Services Staff Member Donates to Mask Makers

Mask ear protectors being made on JPS Information Services staff member, Dan Anderson’s, 3-D machine.

Jamestown Public Schools’ Information Services Database Programmer/ Analyst, Dan Anderson, was looking for a way to help out his community using his 3-D printing hobby. He found a great use for that skill for a very good cause — creating ear protectors for face masks for the people on the “front lines.” The mask ear protectors serve a key role in protecting the tender area on the ears where the elastic straps wrap, especially for healthcare professionals and others who must wear facemasks with elastic straps for long periods of time. There have been many reports of healthcare workers suffering injuries to their ears due to prolonged, unprotected use of facemasks with elastic straps.

“I had been seeing a lot of coverage online of people with 3-D printers chipping in with parts for personal protective equipment and sometimes even parts for ventilators. I narrowed it down to the ear protectors because it would be the simplest item and would help out the most people,” said Anderson. “I have friends on the ‘front lines.’ I have heard firsthand how the N95 masks are unpleasant for long periods of time and not at all designed for all day use. 3-D printing isn’t a very popular hobby locally, so I felt an obligation to doing my part. Plus two years ago, when my family brought our premature daughter into the world, a gofundme.com was set up for us and a lot of people came together to help us through that extremely difficult time. This is just a way for me to give that back, a little bit.”

Anderson contacted JPS Superintendent Bret Apthorpe to see if he had any additional contacts that might use the ear protectors. With one email, Anderson was connected to Janet Forbes who is helping Mary Brooks and others involved in the Mask Makers of Western NY, who sew and provide masks to area health providers, first responders, and at risk populations locally and in NYC and Buffalo area. So far, Anderson has dropped off over 1,100 protectors but he is keeping his printers running, one 24/7 and the other during waking hours, producing roughly 150 to170 ear protectors a day to deliver to Mrs. Forbes. In addition to his donation to Mask Makers of WNY, he has also donated about 400 ear protectors to ECMC, with a smaller portion of those being given to the NICU at Oishei Hospital. He has also donated 100 to The Resource Center, 150 to UPMC-Chautauqua, 60 to JPS Food Services and 100 to JPS’s childcare providers and the YMCA.

“Last week, Dr. Apthorpe connected with Dr. Lillian Ney who knew we were making and donating fabric masks,” said Forbes. “Dr. Ney contacted me and I asked Mary if she would like me to reach out to Dan and see how this collaboration might come together, and she said yes! Mary and other volunteers have distributed these ear protectors to Lutheran, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, UPMC, VA Clinic, and other places. I am delighted to live in a community where this chain of connections could bring together so many different people, talents, creative ideas, and organizations in a short period of time to put into action the production and donation of the mask ear protectors. This is another piece in the complex web to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep our healthcare professionals safe as they are taking good care of us all during this very difficult time. It takes a village. COVID-19 reminds us of this now more than ever.”

Forbes would like people to know that if they have a creative idea using their own special talents, such as Anderson with his 3-D printing skills, take action and reach out to local leaders to offer them to the community.

“Mr. Anderson serves as an outstanding role model with the production and donation of his 3-D printed mask ear protectors,” said Forbes. “Don’t wait until you think the idea or product is perfect but rather offer it when it is still ‘good enough.’ Fabric face masks whose rows of stitches aren’t perfectly straight and mask ear protectors with an occasional hiccup will protect the healthcare worker and be greatly appreciated.

If any health care professional or essential worker is interested in receiving ear protectors from Anderson, or would like to donate filament to create the ear protectors, please leave a message at questions@jpsny.org for Anderson. The Mask Makers of WNY are also looking for donations of 100% cotton yardage; especially ones that have masculine or kids prints material, thread and other notions as well as volunteers to do errands are needed. Their Facebook page is Mask Makers of Western NY and they welcome people to join their efforts. Donations can also be dropped off at boxes at Zion Covenant, East Randolph United Methodist Church, Conduit Church, or the Llama Club Pavilion or email Maryebrooks716@gmail.com to schedule pick up.

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