When Jess and Al, a couple from Gaithersburg, Maryland, realized that many local kids didn't have desks at home for remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic, the pair wanted to help.
"Our community, like communities across the country, has been impacted financially by the Covid pandemic. We have students whose families are experiencing unemployment or underemployment, housing insecurity as well as food insecurity. So our hope is that we can help in a small way and get kids ready to learn and not have to worry about basic needs and resources," Jess says.
"'Desks By Dads' is a project to build and donate desks for low-income students during the pandemic," she explains.
Jess, an active parent volunteer in the PTA, started off by collecting used desks from friends and neighbors. "Very quickly, it was clear that the need was greater than available desks," she says. "That's when I asked my husband, Al, to build me a prototype desk over the weekend."
"I'd never built a desk before, but I watched some videos on YouTube that gave me an idea and gave me some direction," Al says.
"As soon as we started building desks and we posted our first prototype desk on Facebook, I had friends reach out whose husbands were interested in starting desks. It's just sort of taken off from there," Jess says.
Now, volunteers from across the community are helping build desks as well as providing other necessities for at-home learning, like dividers, desk lamps and chairs. "We have folks just drop them off outside our home. We've also had people ship donations from across the country," Jess says.
"We have a self-referral form where students or parents can reach out to us directly to request a desk. We have now donated 154 desks. We have helped launch projects from Virginia, to Michigan, to North Carolina, to New York and now to California," she continues.
"You don't need to have a lot of talent or skill or resources to make a difference. You just start where you are with what you have, and if you're doing good work other people will come along."
Funny she should say that, because Rach had a surprise to share from our friends at The Home Depot, who heard about the good work Jess and Al are doing and want to help them continue supporting students in need. The Home Depot is sending $10,000 worth of product to Desks By Dads! 🧡
Jess and Al are part of our "Thanks For Giving" series, highlighting amazing people doing good every day until Thanksgiving. Read more good news stories here.