A Stonebridge community member’s talent for carpentry and heart for giving has transformed the lives of students who lack an essential tool.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the virtual learning that followed soon after, revealed a number of previously hidden needs within our community and nationwide. Across the country, over 9 million students didn’t have access to the internet at home. Over 4 million students didn’t have access to a computer or tablet. But what were kids even more in need of? It turns out the one item that students in Collier County needed most is desks.
Stonebridge Country Club resident Peter Fleming was looking for ways to help throughout the pandemic. After hearing about similar projects in other cities, he banded together a neighborhood team and began building desks to donate to Champions For Learning to distribute to local students in need. The purpose of their project was to give students a dedicated place to study while at home, whether that be while learning online during the pandemic or now that most students are back in the classroom as a place to complete their homework. Their “Desks-By-Dads” project has allowed students to be able to better concentrate on their studies, providing them a space that is their own and separate from potential distractions.
When the coronavirus pandemic forced schools to move online, students were tasked with finding new ways to learn from home – often at a kitchen table, a bed, or even a living room floor. Online learning was challenging enough for children, and not having a dedicated workspace made it even harder to be focused and organized.
With the help of several Stonebridge volunteers, so far the Desks-By-Dads project has provided 57 desks, built to collapse and be put away when not in use, to Collier students in need.
One Champions For Learning eighth-grade student, who has been using either her older brother’s desk or her bed to complete her homework, shared that she is looking forward to having space away from household distractions to organize her schoolwork.
“The demand for student desks has shown that we don’t always know what others in our community need,” said Susan McManus, President of Champions For Learning. “It’s been so meaningful to see the energy of this project, we really can’t thank the team of volunteer carpenters at Stonebridge enough.”
The Champions For Learning students and families that have received desks are also grateful. Thank you messages and pictures from parents who say that the desks “have made homework time so much easier.”
Champions For Learning student Rodrigo says that “the desk has really helped me by establishing a quiet location away from distractions. Now I am able to study and do my homework,” adding, “My words can’t express how fortunate I was to get a desk. This has really made a difference in my life.”