Retired Elmhurst carpenter makes free desks for Lombard students

Lombard District 44 has a hybrid learning plan, so sometimes the students are in the classroom, but having a desk at home is also critical
LOMBARD, Ill. (WLS) -- As hundreds of students learn remotely, retired carpenter Al Alevizos of Elmhurst has put his woodworking talents to use making free desks for needy students in Lombard Elementary District 44.

"I'm doing it because there's a need," Alevizos said as he cut and measured wood in his garage. "There was a true need for kids. They didn't have a workspace, they didn't have a computer, they didn't have a lot of things. Being able to make the desk and stuff, which I'm capable of doing, I just decided it would be a good thing for me to do."

Several students do not have desks as they learn remotely, so the team at Lombard District 44 made sure they could put the carpenter's talents to great use. School administrators, social workers and teachers worked together to track down families who needed desks.

Amanda Abruzino, an early childhood special education teacher, had a preschool student in her class who could use it, along with her siblings who are in kindergarten and second-grade.

"Having a desk and creating a special school within their homes makes it that more meaningful for that child," Abruzino said. "It shows that they are just as much a part of being at school when they are learning at home."

Lombard District 44 has a hybrid learning plan, so sometimes the students are in the classroom. But having a desk at home is so critical right now, and the families, including the Nuam family, are grateful.

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"Yes, it's very, very good. We were very grateful," said Mang Nuam, whose daughter Sarah is in Ms. Abruzino's class. "We are happy for our family."

Ms. Abruzino said the school community has really come together as a team, ensuring every child is getting the help they need at home, including a desk.

"What he is doing to spread that kindness in the world is such a joy," she said. "He not only touched this family's lives, but a lot of families' lives."

Although Alevizos dropped off his first round of desks at the school district, he hasn't had a chance to meet any of the families yet, or see pictures of the desks being used. Even so, he's still moved by the district's response.

"It was emotional in some ways for me because I could see that they were touched by what I did," he said. "Just to be able to know I've contributed something makes me feel good."

Alevizos said he was walking his dog when a neighbor mentioned the students' dilemma of not having desks.

Along with hearing about the problem, he also saw a story on "ABC World News Tonight with David Muir" of a man on the East Coast who was making desks for students. The story convinced Alevizos to do the same, and he has a message of encouragement to others with woodworking talents and skills.

"Get on board with making desks," Alevizos said. "I know there are a lot of people out there with talent, and there is a need. Believe me, there is a need."
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