DESKS FOR DISTANCE
One Teenager’s Story of Giving Back Story and photos by Laticia Headings
olby Samide, a junior at Woodgrove High School in Purcellville, had no idea that his inspiration to make desks for underprivileged kids would earn nationwide attention and land him on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, The Dr. Oz Show, and online in a People Magazine Exclusive. The 17-year old grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and moved to Purcellville in 2017 with his parents and younger brother. Samide adjusted well to the move and fit in easily. “I love it here, it’s a really cool town and the people are awesome,” he says. “I’m lucky to live here.” Samide, who plays baseball and loves to ski, found a new hobby and realized a passion after taking a woodworking class at Woodgrove. “I fell in love with it. We made these cool wind-up cars and picture frames,” he says. At home, Samide put his carpentry skills to use and built a hanging daybed for his
mom, a fire pit bench, and his own desk for distance learning. “I love to tinker. I’ve always loved to build things ever since I can remember,” he says. In August, Samide came across a Facebook page called Desks by Dads, a group of Maryland men who were building desks for kids at home from school because of the pandemic. Samide immediately jumped on the idea to create a similar initiative. “It was a great way to combine my woodworking skills and my love for giving back,” he says. Samide and his family frequently volunteered at homeless shelters and soup kitchens when they lived in Cincinnati. “My mom always said to spread kindness where you can … so that’s definitely been instilled in me,” he says. At a young age, Samide displayed an entrepreneurial spirit. To earn spending money, he started a business. “When I was in 6th grade, I started my own lawn company in
Top: Screenshot of Colby Samide on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“What started out as a simple idea to give back turned into this cool thing that inspired other people … which was the best part, that people were continuing [the idea] in their locations.” — Samide
Cincinnati and continued it when I moved here,” he says. Originally, Samide intended to make five to ten desks to help families struggling financially, and to assist kids who needed their own space to study in a home setting. He set up shop in his family’s garage with a miter saw and the necessary tools and got to work. He also started a Facebook page called Desks for Distance. The next day, the page had 250 shares. Soon after, Samide was contacted by a local newspaper and WJLA ABC-7 in Alexandria to do stories. In just two weeks, Samide raised $4,000 from generous donors for building supplies through a Venmo account. He researched desks on YouTube and, after changing several dimensions and adding a back brace, he settled on a production-friendly design. “I can usually do four in an hour,” he says, noting Giving | Page 27