Virtual learning is the “new normal” for students in most countries nowadays due to spikes in COVID-19 cases. While this type of learning is safe and convenient for educators and students, not everyone can really afford the necessary materials and resources for virtual learning. The good news is that there are lots of people who extend their help to struggling students.
In Maryland, a group of local dads is making tables for students who need them during virtual learning. Brandon Sanchez is one of the students who were gifted with personal desks by the group. “I really appreciate them because without them, I wouldn’t have a desk,” he said.
According to Sanchez who is now in seventh grade, he used to study in their dining room table but now that he has his personal desk, he can study in his room where it’s quiet and focus more on his online classes.
The “Desks by Dad” project was launched by parents Al and Jessica Berrellez. When Jessica went to her daughters’ schools to put virtual kits together, she realized that a lot of students in their community do not have their own working desks.
She started talking to low-income families and checked the working situation of the students at home. Once she confirmed the need for personal desks, she and her husband thought of a way to help the students.
The couple began searching online but found out that the demands outnumbered the supplies for personal desks. They then decided to just make the desks on their own, which was easier and cheaper.
Al spent hours watching YouTube tutorials on DIY desks and when he learned how to build a desk in an hour for $40, he immediately posted the blueprint on Facebook. Their families and friends were eager to help out and make the desks for students.
The project was easily embraced by the community and as of now, the group has delivered over two dozens desks to students in Gaithersburg. Al Berellez said he is always thrilled and amazed every time he sees someone builds a desk or drops off a handmade desk at their house. This also helps him share ideas with other dads and donors.
Jessica Berellez, on the one hand, was happy about the recognition dads are getting because of this project. “Oftentimes, it’s the moms who are sort of responsible for supporting and organizing our children’s education and more actively involved in volunteering, so it’s a nice way to get dads involved and to capitalize on their strengths,” she said.
Though Jessica and Al are bothy busy parents, juggling work and virtual learning with their kids, they aim to continue this project and help more students in their community. In fact, the project has spread to other communities and inspired other desk projects in Virginia, Michigan, and North Carolina.
It is really uplifting to see people helping one another in this long period of uncertainties and challenges. Remember that a small act of kindness may grow into something bigger if you keep nurturing it. Just like the “Desks by Dad” project, a little initiative to help others can go a long way.