ANNA, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Little things can make a big difference during these uncertain times.

That’s the hope of a teenager in Anna who is devoting his free time to help health care workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

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When he’s not doing school work from home or mowing lawns to make extra money, Noah McElwey is doing something extraordinary to help during the COVID-19 crisis.

The 17-year-old Anna High School student built a 3D printer to help train him for a career as an engineer.

“We went to our cousin’s house, and one of them who was in college at the time, built a 3D printer, and we just thought it was the coolest thing in the world,” he said.

Last week, McElwey started using it to produce something that makes face masks more comfortable.

“There’s been complaints that they’re hurting people’s ears,” he said.

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The small pieces of plastic, called ear savers, help take the pressure off of the ears of medical professionals and anyone who wears a protective face mask.

“You wrap it around and then you can just loop it around behind you, and it’s all the force from the mask is on the back of your head,” he said.

Noah McElwey uses a 3D printer to make “ear savers.” (credit: J.D. Miles – CBS 11)

McElwey found the design for it online and has already sent 80 to a teacher who’s distributing them to hospital workers and first responders.

“He asked me if I could print some masks for firefighters and nurses, if you know, just essential workers, people that are in close proximity to each other,” said McElwey.

The process to make these doesn’t cost much, but McElwey is able to purchase the supplies through donations and his landscaping business.

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“I definitely feel like there’s a purpose to it,” he said. “I feel like there’s a sense of personal satisfaction, knowing you’re helping other people.”