An auto dealership is not the first place that comes to mind as a source for school desks.
Yet when Tim Mort, general manager of Freeway Chevrolet in West Chandler, heard about a local man building free, high-quality desks for students who didn’t have a proper work station at home, Mort was moved to do something.
“My kids, fortunately, they each have a desk in their bedroom so they’ve got a nice setup,” Mort said. “I know that’s not always feasible for everybody. We know a lot of people who are struggling with school, work space, a place to do your homework and put your books —a place just to concentrate and focus.
“That’s why we thought it was such a great idea.”
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, thousands of students were forced to take virtual classes from home. Not every home is equipped with or has the means to purchase a desk for the schoolkids. Mort said that when he saw a video of Steve Weinberg building desks to give away to students in need, he offered Freeway Chevrolet’s help.
“He told me all about what he was doing and why he was doing it and it was fantastic,” Mort said. “I said if you’re looking for a sponsor, I think we’d like to get involved with this.”
The dealership paid for all the building materials to construct 30 desks – the equivalent of an entire classroom. With lumber prices having shot up 250 percent over the last year, it was no small investment.
“We’re always looking for a way to give back to the community in a positive way,” Mort said.
Weinberg said he’s “always looking for projects” and liked the fact that he could combine his woodworking hobby with providing a service.
He’s built 120 desks.
Brian Lockwood, a principal in the Roosevelt School District, was on hand at Freeway Chevrolet on May 18 to receive donated desks.
“The students who receive these desks will now have a space to work in at home if they selected our virtual-learning program for next year,” Lockwood said. “It will mean a great deal to them to have a space to work in other than their beds, tables or laps.”
Tiffany Hughes, lead Roosevelt School District social worker and a social worker at V.H. Lassen Elementary School, added that she has seen “a lot of families with multiple students in one space because that’s their only area to work.”