March 16, 2021 by Cathy Stack
As students returned back to school this year, many did so slumped over in the cramped quarters of their homes. Some students were propped up on their beds, while others were spread out on their family’s dining room table. Many families could simply not afford the added cost of a new desk. When Lee first heard of the problem, he decided to act in order to relieve some of the stress.
Lee understood the importance of students having a desk of their own as it provides a child with a designated space which fosters independence. A desk also helps students remain focused on their schoolwork and keeps them motivated.
It was Lee’s wife who first encouraged him to start the woodworking project to help children during this challenging time. “You can build anything. You need to do that,” she said.
Lee, a retiree, is now hard at work building the desks most of the week. He estimated that he builds about 3 desks per day which total about 15 per week. Each 36 inch desk which includes a writing surface, a lamp, 6-socket power strrip and 2 USP ports, costs approximately 65 dollars in materials to make. Once complete he then distributes them in his own truck to the families in need, all at no cost within a 40-mile radius of his home.
As soon as word spread, Lee was flooded with new requests for more desks. The project has become a family team effort. His wife answers the incoming requests and his children pitch in with fundraising on social media. Their goal is to continue building desks for as long as there is a need.
Lee has spent much of his free time during his retired years serving others. He already designs and makes hundreds of wooden toys for sick children called “Buddy Dogs” which he donates to Childrens Hospitals. The toys provide a sense of comfort to ease kids' fear and anxiety during their hospital stay and help put a smile on their faces.
PassItOn and The Foundation For A Better Life believes that Lee Ruefenacht is a true hero for using his skills, his time and his own funds to help families in crisis in his local community. The items he builds are meant to last a lifetime and each made with care. His action is the perfect example of service. He shows us how we can all make a difference in our own unique way. Please help us celebrate this true hero by sharing his inspiring story.
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