Twin Cities nonprofit, Minnesota Tool Library, to make 500 desks for St. Paul distance learning students

Inside the Minnesota Tool Library — a Twin Cities nonprofit that rents out tools and serves as a place to build — volunteers are hard at work helping students.

"We are building desks for K-6 students who are distance and hybrid learning in St. Paul Public School," said Kate Hersey, executive director of Minnesota Tool Library.

The nonprofit plans to build 500 desks, which is a big project.

"We got a grant through the CARES program in St. Paul to purchase all the materials, so we bought about 125 sheets of plywood," volunteer Deb Johnson said.

Volunteer Eric Fort has benefited from the tool library.

"I felt like I just wanted to give back a little bit so I thought, you know what, I’m using the resources, why don’t I go ahead and volunteer," he said.

The desks have a simple but sturdy design and are left plain for a reason.

"They can be stained, they can be painted, they can be shortened if necessary, so there’s the ability for somebody to put their stamp on it as well," Thomas Ebert, co-founder and branch manager of Minnesota Tool Library, said.

"They can make it bright pink or bright green, put flowers or anything they want on it, put their names on it, and they can use it forever," Johnson added.

As parents with young kids know, their school materials can end up all over.

Having a specific location for worksheets, textbooks and chargers is important.

"Having a place to call their own that brings a little more normalcy back to school and makes that exciting again, it’s really important, especially for little kids," Hersey said.

In just its first two days of operation, 136 requests for desks have come in from students.

That means volunteers are needed to make the desks.

"We’re really hoping that anyone who has those building skills or anyone who wants to learn those building skills can come in and join us," Hersey said.

"We’re hoping a lot of people elect to make this their Thanksgiving or their Christmas family project," she added.

If you want to volunteer, there will be COVID-19 friendly community desk builds in November and December, and you can also pick up supplies and build at home.

You can find more information about the Minnesota Tool Library here.