- Associated Press - Saturday, May 2, 2020

RICHMOND, Ind. (AP) - Healthcare workers need masks to protect them against the novel coronavirus COVID-19.

But avoiding the illness still comes at a cost. Wearing masks eight, 10 or more hours a day can cause ear pain and leave marks or sores on faces.

Nick Rader now makes wearing protective masks more comfortable for Reid Health personnel. The 15-year-old prints “ear savers” with a 3-D printer he received as a Christmas gift.

“I saw a story on the news where people were printing ‘ear savers’ for first responders and healthcare workers to help them out,” Rader said. “They’re out there risking their lives for us and keeping us safe. I wanted to help them out as much as I could.”

So far, the Seton Catholic freshman has produced about 150 of the plastic pieces, including a couple of special requests for family and friends. His mother, Danielle Moore, delivers the “ear savers” to friend Anna Brown, who works at Reid and takes them to the hospital. Moore said Brown told her Reid personnel loved the “ear savers” and many were wearing them.

Does that make Rader feel good about his efforts?

“Yeah, it does,” he said.

The entire project makes his mom proud.

“I think it’s awesome,” Moore said.

After developing the idea to produce “ear savers,” Rader looked on a website with patterns designed for 3-D printers. He now produces two styles; one features a heart shape and the other a superhero symbol. Both are strips that fit along the back of the head with the design in the middle and four sets of hooks on each side to secure a mask’s elastic bands, providing maximum comfort by keeping the bands from constantly rubbing the ears.

“He just wanted to help,” Moore said. “He’s a Boy Scout, and he gets out and helps people.”

Rader, in fact, is an Eagle Scout. With school and Scouting, he is no stranger to community service.

Through school last year, he helped pull weeds and beautify the Wayne County Fairgrounds. He also went on a work camp trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he worked at a Catholic thrift store.

“It was nice to work there and help out,” Rader said.

Last summer, he also volunteered at Gateway Hunger Relief Center, where he would help organize the food pantry and help distribute the food. To him, it’s important to help others.

“It helps make the community a better place if everyone works on it,” he said.

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