SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — A restaurant owner on Treasure Island is leading an effort to help local students struggling with remote learning by giving them a locally-built study desk to call their own.

Two and half years ago, the restaurant Mersea opened on Treasure Island to serve its working-class residents, many who live in crowded project housing. When the pandemic hit, co-owner MeeSun Boice read about a man building student desks for his community and she approached some local carpenters about it.

“And I thought, ‘we are a community, we’ll pay the materials if you’ll partner with us,'” Boice said. “Two days later they had prototypes ready. All of a sudden, the whole shop got excited.”

Sunday morning they delivered the first 20 desks. The final design is light and sturdy, with the message “You can do anything” on the front and “Carpe Diem, The Treasure Island Family” on the back.

Twelve-year-old Bruce Hightower arrived with his friend Eli to pick out their desks. Lately Bruce has been working in his living room or kitchen.

“So you would be sitting down and everything’s going on around your house just like normal,” Hightower said. “And you’re, like, ‘I’m at school while I’m doing this?’ So it’s kinda weird.”

Mike Farruggia is one of the woodworkers who built the desks and said he understands the need for people of any age to have their own work space.

“I’m a lot older than these kids and I need that space in my house,” he said. “It’s really important so I get it.”

It only took the carpenters about four days to create the first 20 desks and Boice said she is reaching out to other sponsors and hopes to create a desk for every kid on Treasure Island. She said living on the island can be both crowded and isolating at the same time and she hopes that, beyond the practical value, the desks will make the kids feel valued.

“And, you know, have a little space in the house that’s all theirs,” she said. “That’s what we hope will inspire them.”

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