Wake Forest Students Decorate Desks for Children

DESK event creates at home study spaces for local third graders

A Wake Forest University practice field will soon be transformed into an outdoor art studio to create personalized study spaces for kids. It’s part of an education initiative called Developing Education through Student Knowledge or DESK. This year’s event will be held on Tuesday, April 16 from 3-6 p.m. on Davis Field

The goal of the annual service project is to provide desks to children in the Winston-Salem community who are in need of a workspace at home.

“This year, we are going with a carnival theme, but it’s about connecting with each child’s interests,” said Melanie Cionfolo, a senior accounting major from Knoxville, Tennessee and one of the DESK directors. “We have had anything from Barbie and superhero characters to colorful one-of-a-kind designs.”  

“It’s really what the kids envision, what makes them comfortable and inspires them to work on their homework and accomplish their academic goals.” WFU senior Melanie Cionfolo

Wake Forest students build and prime the wooden desks before the big painting day. They are paired with elementary students to help them create their own personalized study space. More than 60 campus organizations including fraternities and sororities, athletic teams, clubs and graduate students will volunteer to paint more than 70 desks for children in the Winston-Salem community.

“It’s a huge campus tradition that has had an impact on me personally,” said junior Annie Russell, “I became a director this year and after tutoring local youth as part of my experience with Virtual Tutoring, I’ve seen how our volunteer work is making a difference beyond campus.”  

Old Town Elementary, Cook Elementary, Kimberley Park Elementary, and North Hills Elementary will participate in the program.  

“These four elementary schools are Title I schools in our area,”  said Cazandra Rebollar, Assistant Director of Civic Engagement. “This federal designation reflects high economic need for children and their families. It’s important for us to collaborate with these schools that are in a 10-minute radius from campus and help our students see how impactful their interactions with the local community can be.”

Children who attend Wake Forest University’s Freedom School will also participate in DESK. Through local partnerships with Dioli’s, Pure Barre, Bagel Station, T-shirt sales and other events, student organizers are raising money for Freedom School during the program.

“Our fundraising goal for Freedom School is $4,600. It’s an opportunity to support two education equity initiatives,” said Caroline Gallagher, a senior Business and Enterprise Management major. “Just seeing our campus come together like this and how kids react when the decorating is finished is an amazing feeling.”

After the program, Wake Forest students will deliver the desk to the child’s school, so families can arrange to pick them up.

DESK began more than 20 years ago in partnership with Old Town Elementary after two WFU students Tierney Kraft (’04) and Elizabeth Eubank (’04) identified a lack of workspace in the homes of the children they were tutoring. 

Since the first event was held in 2001, Wake Forest students have designed and painted nearly 900 desks for kids. 

Media Note: Video and interview opportunities are available before and during the DESK event. Davis Field (address: 1665 Wake Forest Road) is located by the Scales Fine Arts Center on campus. Contact Keri Brown, media@wfu.edu, 336-758-4442 or C: 336-971-5402.

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