Earlier this year at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, East Central College engineering student Joe Jasper saw a need that fit his skill set.
Jasper, of the Leslie area, owns his own laser engraving business, “Creations with Character.”
Back in March when people working in nursing homes, hospitals and other health care facilities began wearing masks there was a need for plastic mask clips, the St. Francis Borgia Regional High School graduate explained.
“I saw a few other people making the clips and I thought, ‘I could help with that,’ “ Jasper said. “I knew that with my engraver I could make quite a lot of them in a short amount of time — and I wanted to do something to help.”
According to Jasper, nurses, doctors and others on staff at health care facilities were wearing masks for very long periods of time. The clips he designed help keep the masks off their ears by connecting the elastic bands behind their head and off their ears.
“After wearing the masks all day, every day, their ears started to feel it,” Jasper said. “That is the purpose of the clips, to get the elastic off their ears.”
In some cases, he added, the clips secured masks that were too big to fit properly on people’s faces.
Jasper bought cast acrylic sheets and used two engraving machines to create the small plastic clips engraved with his company’s name, “Creations with Character.”
“I can make a little over 200 clips per sheet (of plastic) and it takes 20 to 30 seconds per clip for the entire process,” he noted. “I can always make more — I have a lot of material.”
Jasper contacted area hospitals, including the Mercy Hospital Washington Emergency Room and Mercy Hospital St. Louis, and area nursing homes to see if there was a need for the clips.
Jasper donated more than 600 mask clips to various facilities, including Cedarcrest Manor and Victorian Place, both in Washington; and the Mercy Washington ER department.
He added that the clips that he did not donate to hospitals and health care workers were given to classmates in the Engineering Department at ECC, and family and friends.
“I like giving back to the community,” Jasper said. “The community helped me a lot with college and I enjoyed the volunteer work I did at Borgia (High School).”
In high school, Jasper volunteered for Exceptional Equestrians of the Missouri Valley, Inc. He also was vice president of the Leo Lions club, a youth organization of Lions Clubs International.
Jasper is in his second year at ECC and he plans to attend Missouri S &T in Rolla in the Fall 2021 semester.
His tentative plans are to dual major in Engineering Management and Mechanical Engineering, but Jasper said he may shift focus and study aeronautical engineering.
Creations with Character
Since 2018, Jasper has operated his business from home, using the profits toward college tuition.
He explained that the machine can work on numerous materials, including leather, glass and stainless steel.
Jasper, a Fourth Degree of the Knights of Columbus, engraved leather circles on hats that he sold for the 13th annual Knights of Columbus Journey for Charity Tractor Cruise held Sunday, Sept. 13.
A portion of the proceeds were donated to the Journey for Charity which raises money and collects canned food for area food pantries during a 30-mile parade through Franklin and Warren counties.
For more information or to contact Jasper, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 636-667-2010; or visit his Facebook page.