PORTSMOUTH—Thanks to donations from hobbyist woodworkers, children in Community Action’s Head Start classrooms can now enjoy a truckload of new learning tools.
Community Action of Scioto County offers a wide array of social services to those in the community living in poverty or financial hardship. CAO Head Start and Early Head Start is a comprehensive child development program that falls under the umbrella of its services and focuses on young children and their families from pre-school age until their students are ready to begin public school.
Carla Womack, the Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Manager of Head Start and Early Head Start for CAO of Scioto County, wants her community to know that Head Start is a place that can help local families grow and thrive together, and one where they should always feel welcome.
“Our families trust us, and we have great relationships. I have former students who are now in the military, or who invite me to their weddings, and I’m working with some of their children’s children now. And they will still say, ‘she was my teacher!’ So the impact goes on, and on, and on,” Womack explained.
While government funding covers many of the bare necessities for their efforts, funds don’t always remain for other educational tools which are critical to fostering child development. Thankfully, that’s where Craftsmen for Kids have stepped up to help.
According to their Facebook page, Craftsmen for Kids consists of “nine old geezers and one younger guy whose woodworking passion has become a lifeline for Head Start teachers and others serving at-risk children.”
Craftsmen for Kids seeks to fill educational gaps through woodworking, even spending thousands of dollars of their personal funds on lumber and other materials with one mission in mind: to create vital learning tools for the children in struggling classrooms.
Dean Posekany, a member of Craftsmen for Kids (who affectionately refers to its members as “geezers”), estimates that they have built and donated $520,000 worth of toys in their twelve years of operation. What began as a hobby has since grown to serve Head Start programs in over 20 Ohio counties, and several other organizations which serve children in need.
“A lot of us started out at the furniture bank after we retired, building furniture for people in need. Then some of us started getting more serious about Craftsmen for Kids. I guess we’re all just hobbyist woodworkers; we love getting together once or twice a week to give our wives a break,” jokes Posekany.
Womack knows that despite their modesty, Craftsmen for Kids offers her students vital learning resources.
“Today, they are bringing over $15,000 worth of toys and manipulatives for our children. Their labor, their work, their materials—they charge us nothing. And then they drive all the way down here from the Columbus area,” Womack said.
Kellie Campbell, Head Start’s Educational Manager, knows that the contributions of Craftsmen for Kids allow their students to achieve developmental milestones by learning through play. And she is impressed with their attention to finer educational details, as well:
“They’ve actually sent donations for every level of learning. It’s not just limited to gross and fine motor [skills], but for students who are learning to process social/emotional [behaviors]. They’ve really incorporated a lot of things into our classrooms, and it’s all real wood and natural resources.”
Craftsmen for Kids stays afloat through donations of materials and funds, but as Posekany explains, they typically come from friends of the “geezers” and folks who know their charitable deeds by reputation. To donate to their cause, readers can visit their Facebook page, or contribute to their GoFundMe page: gofundme.com/Charity-Woodworker.
For Womack, their good works led to a valued partnership that has greatly enriched her students.
“It’s been a beautiful relationship. You can’t help but think, ‘this is too good to be true.’ But it’s as good as it sounds,” Woman said.
Visit CAO Scioto County on Facebook to learn more about their Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Or visit them on the web at: caosciotocounty.org.
Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]
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