How New Mexico woodworkers helped students create their own space

Community Reports

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – From an online video tutorial to a quickly-expanding nonprofit organization, the Community Desk Project grew from a need within the community. The Community Desk Project provides free desks for young learners to have their own personal space to study.

Co-founders David and Sonya Gunter began the project after seeing a lot of requests for desks on the Facebook groups they were members of. Since children have been working from home during the school year, often alongside their parents, the students needed a space of their own to study. Desks were in high demand and difficult to get a hold of at places like Target or through Amazon.

David enjoys watching woodworking videos on YouTube and came across a tutorial on how to build a small desk for children, and decided to attempt to make a couple on his own. The desks were very simple and designed to be made from about $30 worth of wood. David even designed a desk to go along with the desks. They listed both desks David had made on that online group to give away to anyone who needed them. They got an overwhelming response from the community.

At that point, the couple reached out for help by way of starting a Go Fund Me page. The page gained traction and people from all over started donating to the page. “We exceeded our goal by ten-fold, and we had enough money to keep going for the rest of the year which is what we’ve decided to do,” David said.

Not only did they receive donations to keep the project going, but volunteers starting reaching out to help build the desks, thus expanding the project. “About 30 people in New Mexico, mostly in Santa Fe but easily 10 in Albuquerque, decided to help out. We started a queue from the website where people could actually sign up instead of just going through ‘I want a desk’ from Facebook and maybe that not being seen. We have a formal queue that people can apply for and it grew to about 400 desks,” David said.

Brent O’connor and Gene Farnum volunteer to build desks and chairs for the Community Desk Project.

In October of last year, New Mexico United’s Somos Unidos Foundation reached out to the Gunters and wanted to support their cause by raffling off the previous year’s jerseys. They ended up raising over $9,000 to help complete all the desks that were in the queue at the time as well as dropping off desks to community centers in Albuquerque.

In February, the organization gave away its 450th desk. Even though students will be returning to in-person classes, David said there will still be a need for desks. “They still need a desk at home, they still need a dedicated place to study. So we’re going to keep going and doing this until we can’t, or at least until we’ve satisfied all the kids in New Mexico,” Gunter said.

The desk and chairs are designed in such a way that only a minimum of tools and time are required to assemble. The desks are not painted to allow for each student to individualize their own desk and decorate it how they’d like. For more information, visit their website at communitydeskproject.org.

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