DESK provides opportunity for educational outreach

The annual event brings the local community together to provide desks for Winston-Salem elementary schools


Courtesy of Wake Forest

The 20th DESK event in 2019 saw over 400 Wake Forest students, faculty and staff come out to Poteat Field to paint 42 desks.

Addison Schmidt, Contributing Writer

 Discovering Education through Student Knowledge, or DESK, is an annual spring festival hosted at Wake Forest where students, parents and their children come together to design and paint new desks to provide a more engaging study space for elementary students. The 2022 event will take place on April 20.

DESK began 22 years ago when two Wake Forest students recognized the immense need for school supplies among kids they were tutoring at Old Town Elementary School. DESK has continued to raise money and support for young students in the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County area every year since. 

DESK Director Hannah Bullock, a senior from Winston-Salem who has been involved with DESK since her freshman year, enjoys seeing the impact that DESK has on the community she grew up in. 

“I grew up in Winston, so it’s just really cool to see Wake Forest expanding into these communities and these schools that, to be honest, I didn’t even know had such a high need,” Bullock said.

DESK started as an initiative mainly to provide desks to students at Old Town who didn’t have access to workspaces at home but quickly moved into an effort to raise funds for other educational efforts as well. 

“Our event gears toward raising money for school supplies, physical desks, and the Wake Forest University Freedom School,” Bullock said.

After hitting pause on their annual in-person event over the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DESK is excited to once again host their desk-building extravaganza this spring. 

Junior Claire Mahoney, another member of DESK’s Directorship, highlights the excitement that DESK members have going into this year’s event. She also discussed the difficulties of coordinating DESK efforts in the midst of the pandemic

“Last year we had a lot of difficulties with COVID-19, with having kids on campus and having the event how we really wanted it to be,” Mahoney said. “So, bringing it back this year for the whole experience, with the kids there, for the kids, I’m really happy that we’ve [almost] made it to this huge event.” 

As with many aspects of campus life post-pandemic, however, DESK isn’t returning in exactly the same form. This year, DESK is raising money for multiple schools, as opposed to their exclusive partnership with Old Town Elementary. 

In an effort to raise funds for multiple schools, DESK has been holding fundraisers both on and off campus in recent weeks. Members of the fundraising committee were set up outside of the Benson Food Court last Thursday afternoon to raise money for the Wake Forest University Freedom School. Last Thursday night, both Mahoney and Bullock manned a booth outside of the Last Resort Bar (LR) and sold pizza and donuts to students. 

“Wake students, when they buy a $3 slice of pizza, they don’t realize just how far that goes,” Bullock says of the over $600 DESK raised at LR on Thursday. “That’s 12 desks and then some that we were able to provide students just from those [funds].”

In addition to monetary donations, students can also contribute to DESK’s efforts by dropping off school supplies in boxes placed in each of the freshman dorms. 

Although DESK’s main event happens every spring, both Mahoney and Bullock say they cherish their experience with DESK even outside of the building of the desks.

“We’ve had so much fun getting everything together as a team, having our weekly meetings with Mr. Brad [Shugoll], just having a great time being together and getting things done so we can make the event as successful as possible,” Mahoney said.

“Being able to be in a room with everyone and just seeing how big our team is and how hard everyone is working was so powerful,” Bullock said of DESK’s recent in-person, all committee meeting, “it really was a testament to how far our program is reaching.” 

DESK is currently seeking teams of five students each to be partnered with one elementary school-aged buddy and their family to build desks on. Students can also help by donating to support the cause or volunteering to help with set-up or takedown on the day of the event, which will occur from 3-6:30 PM.

Interested students should sign up by scanning one of the numerous QR codes posted around campus. To learn more about DESK, students should follow @wfu_desk on Instagram or visit their webpage at