By Hayley Fedor

Due to the pandemic, many students wake up each morning to join classrooms virtually from the safety of their homes; however, many also lack a space in which to focus their attention on schoolwork. For one local FishHawk resident, Donnie Dewey, this need in the community became a call to action; an opportunity to give back by building desks for students.

Having lived in Brandon since the age of 8 and now in FishHawk, his love for the community runs deep. This coupled with his passion for woodworking, taught to him by his stepfather, led to the idea of handcrafting desks for students in need out of his own home.

“I wanted to do something good with woodworking. I wanted to do something that was more serving than just trying to build another thing,” said Dewey.

After a serious accident that occurred last year with a table saw, severing a number of Dewey’s fingers, woodworking became a sort of therapy for him. As a result, Dewey felt led to use his hobby, which brought him hope during his recovery to bring hope to students in the community.

Dewey and his family not only put love into each desk but also time and precision to make sure they are suitable and, more importantly, safe for the recipients. His wife plays a significant role in getting the desks prepared for student use as well by doing the finishing work on the wood.

With the help of Hillsborough County Public Schools Media Relations department as well as Seeds of Hope in Lithia, Dewey has been able to connect with families that have students in need of a space to devote solely to school.

“My goal is to give them whatever sense of normalcy I can as it relates to school,” said Dewey.
Currently around 30 desks have been made for local students, yet the production has not slowed one bit. The family is determined to meet their goal of building at least 100 desks to be given away free of charge to e-learning students.

For those that would like to help support the efforts of the Dewey family, visit the GoFundMe page under the heading Community Desk Project – Tampa organized by Donald Dewey. The family also asks for individuals in the community to email Donnie.Dewey28@gmail.com if you know of anyone who may be in need of a desk for an e-learning student.