Making a Difference One Desk at a Time

Colby Samide is making distance learning a little easier by providing desk to students in need.

Just+a+junior+in+high+school%2C+Colby+Samide+is+making+a+difference+that+will+be+felt+nationwide+as+people+from+across+the+country+reach+out+to+him+to+start+making+desks+in+their+area+for+students+in+need.

Courtesy of the Desks for Distance Facebook Page

Just a junior in high school, Colby Samide is making a difference that will be felt nationwide as people from across the country reach out to him to start making desks in their area for students in need.

By Caelan Jones, Dominion High School

Using a passion for woodworking, one Woodgrove junior is making a difference in the world for kids who cannot afford desks. Ever since Colby Samide took a tech ed. class his freshman year, he has been passionate about woodworking, and he thought it would be a great idea to use his woodworking skills to help others.

Samide saw a group on Facebook called Desks by Dad, located in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and this inspired Colby to start his next project, called Desks for Distance. It wasn’t long until he got requests for desks.

Moving to Loudoun from Cincinnati three years ago, said he has always wanted to give back to the community. “I love it here. The community is awesome. And, I have just wanted to give back for a while, and figured that this was a good way to do it,” Samide said.

Samide’s mom, Dylan, said, “He [has always] had a love for building things. Even like, as young as you know, as a toddler. He would build these elaborate block structures and all these mazes.”

So far in his endeavor, Samide has made 61 desks by himself and then hand delivers them. “[My favorite part] is definitely delivering them. The part when the parents and kids see. It makes me feel happy that I’ve given back and it makes me feel good,” Samide said.

Starting this project in early September, Samide was producing multiple desks very quickly, but, since school started, his rate of production has slowed down. “I have been making them at night. I have been cycling through them, though. I am going to build [the desks] for everyone who is on the list now. But, I am going to slow down and stop for my junior year, to focus on school,” Samide said.

As of September 25th, Colby Samide has made 61 desks for students who could not afford one to help them with distance learning. (Courtesy of Desks For Distance Facebook Page)

His mom shared, “He came downstairs one night at 11 o’clock. And he’s like, Mom, Dad, I think I’m starting a new nonprofit and like, what, what are you talking about? I’ve loved watching him do something that he enjoys so much building and then also sounds like what’s even more rewarding for him as is the delivery and seeing the kids faces.”

This Monday, Sept. 28, Samide is partnering with Moss Building and Design, and they will be building 50 desks together, with all materials donated from Lowe’s, for more students. Mara Bauserman, Vice President of Marketing, said, “He is really quite impressive. He’s very composed, he really thinks about what he’s doing. I think he’s also humbled and excited about how many people are supporting his effort.”

Samide said that one thing that he wants others to take away from his project is to show kindness and compassion whenever it’s possible. “A small act [of kindness] can make a big difference to someone in need, or even anyone in general, especially during these kinds of times.”

The process of making one desk is a lot of work. “I start off by going to Lowe’s, I get three 2x3x8 ft boards, and I also get a 4×8 ft board. I get a maple hardwood top, which makes the desktop. When I get home, I cut the 2x4x8 boards, and make the legs. [I screw] the legs in sideways and it makes [the screws invisible]. And that’s it,” Samide said.

Bauserman said, “We will kind of be setting up an assembly line, and we already have everything pre-cut. And, you know, we will be building one desk after the other, and just make sure that they are all done.”

Colby has been recognized for his amazing outreach to the community by multiple news organizations, including The NBC Nightly News. “I wouldn’t say it was intimidating, but it was definitely nerve wracking,” Samide said.

Bauserman said, “He made a little YouTube video (see below) with his tutorial. And then just this week, he started a group to actually share his experience. So other people in other regions can undertake a similar effort, but he has, so he kind of wants to see it grow to other people to take the same effort under their own way, which is really impressive.” Samide’s efforts now reach as far as California.

Along with the recognition from the news, Samide has received tons of notes and thank you cards from the students who received desks. “[Kids say], ‘Thank you Mr. Nice Man.’ Kids, they make these adorable, little handmade, thoughtful notes and, they are awfully cute,” Dylan Samide said.

This story was originally published on DHS Press on September 25, 2020.