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#NeighborhoodHeroes: Students and teachers making desks for kids learning from home

Many students are still distance learning. Some don't always have the perfect set up to comfortably learn from home. The National Honor Society with Indio High School created an initiative to bring desks to kids who are learning from home in partnership with California Scholarship Federation (CSF) members. The club, faculty and students, built, repurposed, and painted desks to handout to students learning from home. They named this initiative "Desks for Distance Learning."

"Upon receiving so many responses, we realized that the need in our community was far greater than we had originally anticipated," said organizers for the project. They have gifted over 40 desks to students in the community and spend hours each day making it happen.

Johan Gracia, an 11th grader, was one of over 40 students to get a desk through this initiative. “I could do my homework on my bed and stuff but it’s uncomfortable, i don’t have no really kitchen table, i don’t have no real kitchen counter,” said Gracia.

“We still wanted to help out the community somehow this year. By doing that we wanted to make desks, especially right now where all students are learning from home,” said Tony Flores, NHS member and senior at Indio High School. The project started off with a handful of desks that were revamped from a previous engineering class and it grew much larger than anticipated. “I anticipated maybe like 50 kids wanting a desk and we had over 260 kids sign up to get a desk,” said Amy Torres, the advisor for NHS and teacher at Indio High School.

The initiative was a true team effort. Mrs. Judy Wertz-Guenther is another teacher at Indio High School. Her husband built over 30 desks for the initiative. From there, Guenther and Torres spent 3 hours a day distributing and picking up desks.“When we found out the response that we had, we felt like there was a responsibility that came with that,” said Guenther.

Bryan Sotelo, a 9th grader at Indio High School, also received one of the desks. He said he would usually just sit on his bed and do homework and appreciates now that he has a designated space. “I was surprised because out of everybody I was one of the winners and I was pretty happy,” said Sotelo. “Thank you and I appreciate you helping build the desk,” added Sotelo.

An initiative much needed throughout the Coachella Valley. “Not everyone has the proper materials for proper education. So I thought it was really nice to be able to provide desks,” said Flores.

Students who painted the desks painted them in solid colors and even went all out with their own fun designs. “And some of our students that even helped paint also needed these opportunities but they were still willing to put themselves out there and provide it for someone else,” added Torres. Some of the students even sent letters of inspiration with the desks.

“I’m really proud of the kids for coming up with this idea and then moving forward with it,” said Guenther. “If things move forward and we are able to get sponsors in the future I think it could be something we continue to do,” added Torres.

This project not only helped the kids learning from home to have a comfortable and dedicated working space but also helped the kids who are creatively painting the desks for others.

News Channel 3's Taban Sharifi will speak with administrators of the initiative, student helpers, and those to receive the desks for this Neighborhood Heroes segment. Tune in to KESQ News Channel 3 for the full story Thursday at 5 p.m.

Celebrating #NeighborhoodHeroes

While the coronavirus crisis is keeping us apart, we know the Coachella Valley community is still coming together to help each other. We are looking for those who are lending a hand during this uncertain time. Do you know of any everyday people who are going out of their way to help others? Have you seen someone find creative solutions to the new challenges we all face?

News Channel 3 wants to celebrate these neighborhood heroes. Tell us about them here. Enter HERE or email SHARE@kesq.com or taban.sharifi@kesq.com. If you see good happening on social media, share it with us, and tag it #neighborhoodheroes for us to see.

We are all in this together. Help us showcase the good that's happening right here in the Coachella Valley.

Kaiser recommends that those in the Coachella Valley who are elderly and have underlying health conditions, including individuals who are HIV positive, limit non-essential travel and avoid large public gatherings.

Health officials said anyone who thinks they might be experiencing symptoms of the virus and want to be seen at Eisenhower Health should call the hospital hotline first at 760-837-8988. Avoid the spread of this illness.
Residents with further questions can call 2-1-1 and 800–CDC –INFO (800 – 232 – 4636) with any questions.

Public health recommendations for all Riverside County residents during community spread:

Practice social distancing, which is remaining out of places where people meet or gather and avoid using public transportation, if possible.
Do not attend work, school or events when sick. Stay home.
Cough into your elbow or tissue.
Wash hands frequently and use hand sanitizer often.
Stay away from anyone who is sick.

Neighborhood Heroes / News / News Headlines
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Taban Sharifi

Taban Sharifi is a Meteorologist and Reporter with KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News & Weather Leader. Learn more about Taban here.

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