CHERRY HILL — Justin Foley describes himself as an "amateur woodworker" who loves his community but had never really been able to give back.

That changed following the transition to remote learning at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which gave Foley an opening to showcase his skills.

In both scrolling Reddit and talking to parents, Foley became aware of the need for students to have dedicated workspaces at home, rather than using the coffee or kitchen table, or their beds.

So, he decided to build a desk, something he'd been doing as a hobby for years.

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"It's reminiscent of the old school desks which I'm very familiar with, with the steel legs, and it has the little cubby hole inside of it that you can just put your books and stuff in," Foley said.

After Foley snapped a photo of this initial desk out on the street, and posted it in a neighborhood Facebook group, the desk was gone within hours.

Soon the demand for more desks became apparent, and a GoFundMe page quickly exceeded its $200 goal, having raised well over $3,000 so far.

Foley has now made more than 50 desks, and his original goal of reaching out to his fellow Cherry Hill residents has expanded far beyond the township's borders.

"It started with just the neighborhood being offered these desks, and it has now stretched throughout the state and into the Philadelphia area," he said.

According to the GoFundMe, which Foley organized himself, the desks are left unstained and unpainted, so kids can decorate them in their own fashion.

He hopes if demand slows down as more schools go back to hybrid or in-person learning, families can find alternate uses for what he has built.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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