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Paying it forward

Student adding his own wrinkle to face masks

Photos submitted to Times Observer Ben Hampson’s ‘Mask Mender.’

Like many people his age, Warren Area High School senior Ben Hampson has some free time on his hands.

What he’s doing with that time goes well above and beyond the norm.

Hampson took it upon himself to design “Mask Mender,” a device to tighten and adjust face masks. It’s a fruitful endeavor, with the increased need for protective equipment in hospitals and everywhere else around the country and the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m just trying to do the right thing,” Hampson said. “I’m doing it all for free. I just want to pay it forward.”

Hampson is one of Dan Passmore’s students at the Warren County Career Center. Passmore has also stepped up, designing masks to be distributed.

Ben Hampson

The teacher has taught his pupil well.

“In the midst of all the crazy we are dealing with right now, out of nowhere I get an email from Dan Passmore,” said Warren County School District Superintendent Amy Stewart. “The email has some very strange-looking pictures of Dan, and he was talking about the need to get to school to be able to make more of these respirators. We had recently sent our stockpile of good masks to Warren General, so I was very interested in supporting Dan to help those in need, including our own employees. Now is not the time to be selfish. If we can do something to help those helping others during this time, it is the least we can do.

“Additionally, I received another picture of a mask from one of my colleagues,” said Stewart. “This mask looks different, and is designed by one of our students, Ben Hampson.”

Mask Mender is designed to make wearing masks easier by hooking the straps behind your head instead of around the ears, enabling you to keep the mask close and tight while avoiding agitation around the ears.

“I was scrolling around Instagram and saw something similar and I wanted to donate, but I couldn’t find where to do that,” Hampson said.

So he decided to do it on his own.

“I own a 3-D printer,” he said. “I drew one up and took a couple of tries with some different designs and I’m printing them as we speak.”

He noted that he’s already distributed some to the Watson Home and the Rouse, but that appears to be just the beginning.

“I got asked by a police officer in Sedona, Arizona, for a few,” he said. “She saw them and messaged my mom on Facebook.”

During a time of need, the 18-year old Hampson is going above and beyond, and the impact of his work is already wide-reaching.

“It sure is nice to see people rise up and selflessly spend their time to try and help others,” Stewart said. “These two gentlemen saw a problem. They used what they knew, used the tools they had, and they are out there trying to solve it! As we navigate these difficult waters, we need to stop and recognize those people who are out there making it happen.”

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