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'Desk Guy' Fills A Need For Students Who Are Distance Learning

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Like millions of other Americans, Mitch Couch recently transformed his house into a school without a lot of advance notice.

MITCH COUCH: So I thought, OK, I'm going to build them some desks.

MARTIN: His kids are doing virtual learning at home, and they needed somewhere to sit and somewhere to put their laptops.

COUCH: I was thinking to myself, wait a minute. I wonder if other people are having this problem. So I made a YouTube video. I put it on my social media - how to build these desks.

NOEL KING, HOST:

That video made its way to the Grocery Outlet, which is a store in Mitch's hometown of Lemoore, Calif.

COUCH: They had seen the video, and they contacted the local school district. And they wanted to know if there was any needs or they knew of any parents that would need the desks.

KING: That store's owner, David McKinney, had been trying to find ways that he could support families who are struggling with home schooling. And in fact, he had been looking for desks to donate.

DAVID MCKINNEY: The thought was to give them a spot to sit and do their work.

COUCH: So they contacted me and said, if we buy the materials, would you be willing to donate your time and build the desks? I said, hey, let's do it.

MCKINNEY: So we kind of got together. We figured out a plan of about 25 desks.

MARTIN: And 25 desks was just the beginning. Now Mitch is running a factory as well as a school out of his house.

COUCH: We would get as many done as we could in a day, load them up, run them over to the grocery store as late as we could. And then they would call the schools the next day and have the parents come get them.

JUDY MIYAMOTO: I didn't think it was a joke, but I just thought, really, you guys? And they're like, yeah. They're like, we just want to help.

KING: That's Judy Miyamoto. She works at the Grocery Outlet, and she got one of Mitch's desks.

MIYAMOTO: I'm very grateful, and my son is very grateful to have it. Especially at times like this, with the pandemic, it really helps lift people's spirits up knowing that there are actual good people out there.

KING: And it's heartening to Mitch, too, because being the desk guy has led some really nice people to his door.

COUCH: Like, we had a guy the other day - we were working late into the night. It was, like, 11 o'clock. And the neighbor walked down the street, and he walks up. And he's like, hey, are you the desk guy? And I said, yeah. And he said, I want to help. So he reached in, and he pulled out 20 bucks. And he - sorry - he said, will this help? And I said, that's one desk right there. So it was - it was a good night.

(SOUNDBITE OF DORENA'S "THE MORNING BUS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.