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2 Davenport natives make desks for students in the QCA

“It reminds our community that our community cares for each other”
Published: Jan. 6, 2021 at 7:15 PM CST
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DAVENPORT, Iowa (KWQC) - Two Davenport natives are building desks for students who are doing remote learning and donating them to various organizations in the Quad Cities area.

“Talking about making 25 to 30 desks. We left that in the dust a long time ago,” said Hugh Stafford. He and his friend John Kessler started making desks in November after Stafford saw a story about a man doing something similar. They connected with local nonprofits as a way to get the desks to kids in need and personally delivered a few.

“It is so gratifying to see the expression on the kids’ faces when they get a desk. I wouldn’t think that I would be, at age four to 10, that I’d be excited with the desk but these kids just go nuts, and one kid exclaimed...he held onto the desk and he said ‘this is my own desk’ and so I just decided to name this My Own Desk. It was so genuine and he was so happy,” Stafford said, “It’s fun to give them away and so it makes making them fun.”

They initially built 10-12 desks with lumber donated from K&K Hardware. It started slowly and gradually became more popular.

“It was pretty quiet for a while but it seems like it’s gotten really hot,” he said, “We’re gonna have to step up our game if it’s going to be this popular.”

The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center was one of the places that received desks. They made a Facebook post about the desks and the response was overwhelming with more than 1,500 shares.

“That’s when the explosion hit. We were planning to give away maybe eight desks that we had. As of last night, 214 have been requested just from a day and a half of it being on Facebook,” Jerry Jones said, the Executive Director of the center. " It does give them a little taste of being at school while at home, which is important because you need to have that ambiance to stay focused. It reminds our community that our community cares for each other. There are people out there that really want to see you do well. Some stranger made this desk for you so you can be successful. That’s a lesson that will take them throughout life.”

“There’s been a great response. A lot of excitement, especially from the kids who are really excited about it,” said Rachael Mullins, President, and CEO of the Putnam Museum.

The museum received eight desks and has a few more coming. Mullins said they started a day camp program in partnership with Monroe Elementary and thought it would be an opportunity for those kids to have a workspace.

“It really is kind of a motivator for them to be engaged in their studies and completing homework and just a place of their own while they’re at home for learning,” Mullins said. “It’s been a great partnership and we’re really appreciative. I think all of us are just trying to figure out how to meet each other’s needs right now. This has been a wonderful opportunity for everyone to kind of wrap around the changing needs ‚especially in the schools, with the changes in schedule.”

“We are going to do our absolute best to work with Hugh and other organizations to see if this need can be met because it’s an important thing that we need to have our kids to have a safe structured place to do their homework and keep up with education,” Jones said, “my deep sincere thanks to this community for responding when there’s a need.”

“The real heroes here are the nonprofits,” said Stafford, “They’re making a difference in the community and we’re just, like I said, trying to make their job a little bit easier.”

The duo builds 25 to 30 desks a week and has given away over 80 so far. If you’re interested in helping out with the costs ($25 per desk) you can make donations through The Friendly House for the My Own Desk and help get desks for students across the Quad Cities area.

Places that recieved donations include:

Davenport Public Schools

One Eighty

Youth Hope

MLK Jr. Community Center

Project Renewal

QC Community Foundations

Humility Homes

Putnam Museum

Boys And Girls Club

Hope at The Brick House

Heart of Hope Outreach

Scott County Family Y

One Eighty

Family Resources

Big Brothers Big Sisters

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