Jefferson City students mend a way to give back during the holidays
JEFFERSON CITY - Students at the Nichols Career Center in Jefferson City are raising money for local charities through class welding projects during the holiday season.
High schoolers that participate in the program use welding technology to cut out and weld large metal holiday lawn ornaments that they later sell to community members and businesses in the Jefferson City area.
This year the students have sold $4,100 worth of their creations which is about $1000 more than they raised their inaugural year of the fundraiser.
Students said they first got the idea to donate the money after finding out that the Toys for Tots storage center in Fulton was robbed. They wanted to find a way to help their community and this year they decided to do it again.
"This year has been a great response," Kenny Thomas the instructor at Nichols Career Center said. "Its been a great response, and people are liking them."
The lawn ornaments consist of intricate patterns and some stand as large as 3 feet tall. Students are able to create these by using Plasma cutter. The plasma cutter uses computer technology where students create a pattern or stencil and program the cutter to create the same patterns in thick sheets of metal. the They then take the skills they have learned in class to sand down the metal and weld them into pieces that people can use to decorate for the holidays.
Thomas said he did not always have this kind of equipment. After an advisory board meeting professionals and business owners in welding and engineering told him that in order to fully prepare students for the real world they would need access to technology like this.
"I was like 'woo', yeah, I don't know about that." Thomas said.
Plasma machines cost upward of $28,000 and Thomas knew the welding program did not have the capability to fully fund it.
After receiving a state-funded enhancement grant, Thomas was able to expand the curriculum to include teaching students how to integrate plasma cutting technology into welding.
"It was a little bit difficult for me, trying to remember the order of how to put it in and how to do it...but after a few weeks, I got it on my own and didn't need much help after that." Jacob Plassmeyer said.
Plassmeyer is a second year student in the welding program and was just starting the program when the new technology was introduced. He now is responsible for training other younger students in how to properly use the plasma cutter. He has helped work on projects for organizations like Special Olympics Missouri by creating signage for their new training center.
"I really like doing it because I mean, knowing that I can help out with veterans and other such organizations that we donate to...I like it." Plassmeyer said.
This year Thomas and his students decided that the money from signs that were bought this year will go to support the Salvation Army in Jefferson City.