Teams of volunteers, with varied skills, respond to natural disasters helping victims rebuild their homes and lives. Efforts range from day trips to week-long trips. Relief work has been done in Mississippi, Texas, New Jersey, and Florida following hurricanes; Minnesota, Iowa, Tennessee, North Dakota, Colorado, and Missouri following flooding; Colorado following wildfires; and Minnesota, Oklahoma and Wisconsin following tornadoes.
Due to COVID-19, the 2020 spring SPDR trip to Texas, to assist those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, was cancelled. Despite the many disasters in the last several months, the COVID physical distancing requirements made normal travel and lodging arrangements impossible for SPDR team members which led to no plans made for a fall trip in 2020.
In late October, a decision was made to use some of the SPDR resources and skills to help students that are distancing learning due by building desks that would give them a dedicated place to study at home. Local schools were contacted and administrators from schools in Fridley, Spring Lake Park, and Columbia Heights requested a total of 50 desks. Watch for updates here on the project.
After reviewing several different desk designs, a fold up desk was chosen. The first prototype desk was created by one of the SPDR team members. That desk was reviewed and is being refined to ensure the desk is sturdy and easy to fold up. Two different heights of desks will be built.
With about a dozen work sessions at St. Philip’s and some work at home, 33 volunteers completed 50 desks that are ready for distribution. The work included a lot of sawing, sanding, drilling, painting, and assembly both inside and outside – in temperatures that ranged from 70 to 30 degrees, but no snow. And some winning bids on an online auction resulted in 80 student chairs to go with the desks.
Seven social workers from the five Fridley schools, North Park in Columbia Heights, and Westwood in Spring Lake Park stopped in at St. Philip’s on December 7 to pick up desks, chairs, and some school supplies that they then delivered to their students. Since then we’ve received some thank yous and photos. One of the students wrote, “I LOVE the desk!!! Thank you, it’s definitely going to help me get some work done.” Since the weather and COVID-19 restrictions make it difficult to continue to build desks the way the first 50 were built, we are looking into alternate plans.