Meet Max Poindexter, an Intel Oregon-based engineering technician by day and hobby woodworker by night.
When the pandemic first started, Poindexter decided to remodel his garage into a small woodshop. Using his woodworking prowess, he planned to upgrade his work-from-home setup with a homemade desk top. Valuing a quality workstation for productivity and comfort, Poindexter says he started thinking about “just how good I have it in my current situation, which led me to think about struggling families [during the pandemic]. I wanted to figure out how I could help.”
The pandemic has taken an economic toll on many. And the added cost of a desk—or multiple—creates a barrier to success for many children learning virtually. The demand for desks has also boomed in the past six months, with many stores sold out or on backorder, as more people work and learn from home.
When Poindexter realized how he could help, he went straight to work designing a simple desk in CAD, or computer-aided design and drafting, that would be economical and easy to scale. “I went right out to my shop and threw [a desk] together.”
That same night, Poindexter posted on Facebook to gauge interest and see how many people needed desks. “I thought I would make 12 or 15 desks. Instead, the post took off like a rocket,” says Poindexter. “Requests were pouring in.”
What else came pouring in? Donations. Poindexter began accepting donations to cover the cost of materials, ultimately building as many desks as hours in the day would allow. Co-workers, family, friends, and others pitched in, allowing Poindexter to have his first batch of plywood delivered the next day. Two days later, he had the first dozen desks built and ready to go.
The desks are intentionally small, both to fit school-age children and to work in small spaces. “I’ve delivered quite a few of them myself,” Poindexter says. “I have a little Kia Soul and I can actually fit three [desks] in there.”
Poindexter says the desks are given to children in his local community of Keizer, Oregon, with all the referrals and donations generated through word of mouth. With donations and a list of recipients on hand, Poindexter has made 99 desks in just over a month—including a one-week setback from the smoke caused by the Oregon wildfires.
Poindexter says he’s always been a maker, “whether it be out of wood, concrete, plastic – you name it.” Using his engineering mindset, he says, “I’m able to really look at this from an efficiency point of view and make this the most efficient build-out process possible.”
Two months after Poindexter built his first desk, the impromptu project continues. He is finishing current requests. He is also sharing his desk design with others and has plans to share it more broadly online.
“I am lucky that I am in a position to be able to help others at this time,” says Poindexter. “I can’t imagine what some of these kids are going through day in and day out. The most rewarding part [of this project] has been giving these kids a space that they can make their own.”
Because of current demand and generous local donations, Poindexter says he is not accepting requests and donations at this time.