A desk of their own to ease remote learning for kids in need


(AP) As remote schooling surged during the pandemic, parents across the country realized that many kids didn’t have desks at home.

So they got busy building, collecting and donating them, giving hundreds or thousands of students workspaces to call their own and helping them get through long days of virtual learning.

For Mitch Couch in the Central California town of Lemoore, inspiration struck when his 16-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son kept taking over the kitchen table for their remote lessons. He made desks for them, and thought: Why not provide others’ children with individual learning areas they could decorate with stickers and paint?

The desks he made were kid-size, simple and inexpensive, fashioned from plywood with a hutch for workbooks and papers. But they did the trick.

“I was like, you know what, I built these desks for like $20,” Couch said. “Maybe I can show other people how to do it. So I made a quick YouTube video” to guide fellow parents in Desk-Making 101.

A grocery store saw it online and offered to provide materials if he would build more. Managers contacted local school officials to help identify those in need. From the initial batch of a couple dozen, plans quickly ramped up to build at least 50 more, and on a recent day he was sawing and sanding with a driveway full of more than a dozen desks

A single sheet of plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet, yields four desks. By now Couch is so practiced, he can knock one out in just about 15 minutes.

Neighbors stopped by to shake his hand. He’s gotten thank-you messages and pictures from parents who said their kids were “doing better and focusing more because they have their own space now.”

Like Couch, Marcus Holley of Omaha, Nebraska, started out making desks for his own children. Hardly a carpenter, the father of eight searched online and found a simple design for desks that cost about $24 to build.

As he began making more for others and the price of wood increased, Holley launched an online fundraiser so the desks could be free to families. Initially a donor ponied up $1,000, and after a local station ran a story about his initiative, donations reached some $8,000.

Two friends have helped out a few times, but mostly Holley has been on his own in building the furniture for students, teachers, daycare centers — about 150 desks so far. Requests continued to roll in, with $5,000 left in the account.

“Just do good and help others and love,” Holley said.