DES MOINES, Iowa — As students begin the new year during a pandemic, a local organization and church are helping make virtual learning a little bit easier by giving away hundreds of desks to families for free.
“We do the virtual schooling right now and our daughter is at home, and we don’t have a desk and haven’t been able to find one that fits her,” Des Moines resident Lana Rold said.
Rold was ecstatic when Des Moines Public Schools let her know about a huge desk giveaway on Saturday at Principal Park.
“I’m really excited. I hope we run out. I want the community to see that the need is far bigger than anyone imagined. I taught in the Des Moines schools for most of my career before I came to Ankeny, and I saw a need, the food insecure and high-poverty need,” Ankeny teacher Nate Evans said.
Evans founded Woodworking with a Purpose in 2020. He makes desks for kids, so they have a place to do virtual learning that isn’t the kitchen table.
“Right now, she’s working at the kitchen table, so this is huge,” Rold said.
“I know from my own experience as a dad … if they don’t enjoy school if they have a hard time at school, and they’re struggling at the kitchen table, then the kitchen table becomes a bad place. Or if they’re learning in their room, and they sit on their bed, then that becomes a bad place,” Evans said.
Evans, along with more than 30 volunteers from Ankeny Christian Church, came together at Principal Park Saturday to build desks in the batting cage, sand them in the stadium, and pack desks into trucks in the parking lot.
“Anybody that wants to drive here and pick one up is who we opened it up to. No questions asked,” said Ankeny Christian Church Board President Emily Porath.
The group made two different sizes.
“We have big desks; we have little desks,” Porath said.
That students and families are able to customize.
“We definitely encouraged the kids get out your paints, get out your markers, make it a cool looking desk and make it your own,” Porath said.
Families said these simple desks make all the difference.
“It’s very important to have a space for you, your stuff and not have to move it all the time and you can sit and do the things that you need to do and get it done,” Rold said.
Evans said he does all the arrangements for deliveries and pickups on his own right now, but he is always looking for volunteers. If you would like to help out or are in need of a desk, contact his Facebook page Woodworking with a Purpose.