Since school began in September, students who don’t have desks at home have been relegated to floors, beds or crowded areas to study.
Bay residents Laura Geuther and Allison Pohlkamp are trying to solve this problem. Last month, the sisters began constructing desks to donate to students in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
“We wanted to create a space that students could use away from all the distractions of studying at home,” said Geuther, 57. Geuther is the executive director of Fill this House, a non profit organization dedicated to helping children after they age out of foster care.
The duo started building the desks Oct. 19. The desks are 24 inches wide, 32 inches long and are made of plywood and four wooden legs. So far, 12 desks have been made and delivered and the two plan on making 12 more for donation, Geuther said.
The desks are being delivered to both second- and third-grade students at James A. Garfield Elementary on Cleveland’s West Side. Students are selected based on need and free space at home.
“Before these desks, these kids had nowhere else to go to study at home,” said second-grade teacher Carey Rose. “It makes such a difference because they’re seeing that the community cares about them and wants them to succeed.”
Geuther was inspired to make the desks after watching an episode of the Ellen DeGeneres show. The episode featured Colby Samide, 17, who made more than 120 desks for children in Virginia. Soon after, Geuther and her sister learned how to make desks from a tutorial on YouTube and got to work.
Making sure children get a quality education is important to Geuther and her sister. While they were growing up in Bay Village, their mother, Barb Wooburn, worked as a teacher in Bay. The two learned how to woodwork from their grandfather Del Fink as a hobby. When she was 27, Geuther ran a small woodworking business selling arts and crafts at BAYarts, 28795 Lake Road.
Because of the pandemic, most underprivileged students are working virtually from home and don’t have a dedicated space to study. This has affected their focus and motivation to work, which impacts their performance in school, Rose said.
While there are no plans to donate to other schools in the area, Geuther and Pohlkamp plan to make desks for two more months or until supplies run out.
“Education was a huge priority for me growing up,” Geuther said. “My parents did everything possible to make sure we had the best learning environment either in school or at home to be successful.”
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