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Mackay FFA members are raising money by selling Christmas ornaments they made with a 3D printer. Inspired by the holiday season and the coronavirus pandemic, some of the $4 ornaments are light-hearted.

When the Mackay Christmas bazaar was canceled this year due to the coronavirus, Mackay FFA Advisor Trent Van Leuven said students were in a pinch to raise money.

Without the bazaar the chapter wouldn’t have the funds to send students to the Washington Leadership Conference next summer.

Fortunately, Van Leuven is also the high school’s agriculture teacher, which means he has access to a modern version of Santa’s workshop. Coming up with a Mackay Miners Christmas ornament, Van Leuven said he put his design through a Glowforge 3D laser printer. Using a laser to carve into a piece of wood, the printer popped out a stylized mine cart with pickaxes and the Miners’ logo. Inspired, Van Leuven had FFA members come up with fun designs, upload them to a computer and print them out. Van Leuven said they can make 20 ornaments in about four hours.

“There’s nothing really magical about these ornaments,” Van Leuven said. “It just seemed like a good idea, given what we had.”

At $4 apiece, Van Leuven said they’ve been selling well. He recounted how a real estate agent thought they were a great idea, and ordered 40 to give out as gifts to prospective buyers.

What’s been interesting about the ornaments, Van Leuven said, is that some of them don’t have a Christmas vibe. For example, one ornament is a bottle of hand sanitizer that states, “This year has been Purhell.” Another is of the coronavirus wearing a mask and looking away innocently.

Van Leuven said what’s great about the printer is it allows FFA and welding students the opportunity to express their artistic sides. If they want to joke about the pandemic through ornaments, Van Leuven said that’s fine.

The ag teacher wanted to get his welding class involved in the ornament effort, but because four cases of COVID-19 were recently confirmed in the Mackay School District, many of his students are learning from home.

“We kind of had to get creative because, you know, how do you teach welding from home?” Van Leuven asked.

Quarantined kids have been assigned to create an ornament design for the 3D printer. That way, “when the kids get back we can work on their designs,” Van Leuven said.

Van Leuven envisions selling ornaments made by FFA members at future holiday shopping events. They showed off the 3D printer at last year’s holiday bazaar, Van Leuven said, and he thinks people will be interested in buying ornaments for a good cause in the future.

“We could sell a collection every year,” Van Leuven said.

To buy ornaments, contact Van Leuven at trenvanl@mackayschools.org or use the link https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScZ53ynZxQPHXY4EQii0uwNeHDm6qzXVMkyl9sfePb5OIipXw/viewform to order online. Van Leuven can be reached at the high school at 208-588-2262.