UPDATED: Approximately 200 desks still available for Washington County students working from home

Hurricane Youth City Council assists with desk pickups for students working from home during COVID-19 pandemic, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Ken Thompson, St. George News

HURRICANE — In the Hurricane City Council meeting April 16, council members voted unanimously to donate funds to build 300 desks for homeschooled children.

Update April 24 at 10 a.m. – Hurricane Police Officer Ken Thompson told St. George News that as of Friday, approximately a third of the desks have been completed, reserved and picked up, which leaves several still available to any family in Washington County that needs one. For more information or to reserve a desk, interested parents can send an email to kthompson@hcpd.utah.gov.

During the April 16 meeting, the project to make and distribute desks was presented by DeEtte Delaney who said she ran across plans to construct desks by a company out of Salt Lake City called Homewood Creations that openly provides construction plans to make cost effective desks that can be distributed to children.

She said Homewood Creations have been constructing desks for homeschooled children upon request. Since they started they have received some 4,500 requests, Delaney said. For distribution, Homewood sets up different pickup locations where people come and pick up the desks, which reduces on packaging costs.

The desks are made from four pieces of wood. They don’t require any fasteners, hardware or tools to assemble, and they can be easily disassembled in order to be stored under a bed or in a cabinet when not in use. The material for one desk is $16.23. She has had one company offer to sell wood at cost.

She said she thinks there’s a way to distribute the desks while still maintaining best social distancing practices by mimicking Homewood Creations.

Councilman Joseph Prete during the Hurricane City Council meeting on Thursday, February 6, 2020. | Photo by Chris Reed

“People stayed in their car until it was their turn to pick up their product. And we could wear masks and gloves … and still provide a useful item that maybe a lot of folks don’t have,” she said.

Delaney has been working with the Washington County School District, and she said the district president David Stirland is working with other board members in order to identify those students who would most benefit from this project, and she thought Hurricane would be a good place to start. This idea is similar to Homewood Creations but not identical.

Instead of having people make requests for a desk, this project would work to identify those in need. One way of doing this would be to work with the school resource officers, said Hurricane City Police Chief Lynn Excell.

Delaney said the company she works for, KPI Concepts, plans on donating the labor to construct the desks, and that she’s looking for donations to cover some of the material costs. Right now, she said they are looking to start on a smaller scale by making around 300 desks and then reassessing from there.

“I think that there’s an untapped potential energy out there that people want to do something in this time,” Delaney said, “and this is something I think people could get behind.”

Hurricane Youth City Council assists with desk pickups for students working from home during COVID-19 pandemic, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo courtesy of Ken Thompson, St. George News

As this project is in its early stages, no donations had yet been received. In order to fund the first 300 desks, they would need approximately $4,869. Excell proposed that, if approved by the council, the police department could donate between $2,500 and $3,000 from the community policing budget that they had planned to use for incentive programs for kids this spring and other services that have been canceled due to the coronavirus.

Mayor John Bramall proposed to match this donation with up to $2,500 out of the city’s discretionary funds in order to meet the funds needed for 300 desks.

Council member Joseph Prete said that it’s important to understand that because Delaney’s company is working with the school district, the expectation should be that all 300 desks wouldn’t necessarily go to Hurricane residents. The council agreed that this was understood. Prete also said this was an example of the true American spirit.

“You’re doing this of your own free-will,” Prete said to Delaney, “without compensation motive, and I think that’s an outstanding initiative, and I applaud you for it.”

The council voted unanimously in favor of approving the donation of these funds.

Bramall told St. George News that he’s “grateful three entities came together to support needy families who can be blessed with a desk while they are home studying.”

“We hope schools open soon also,” he added, “and hope everyone can get back to work soon.”

St. George News reporter Cody Blowers contributed to this story.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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