ANAHEIM, Calif. -- In July, the Society of Wood Manufacturing (SWM), a Southern California industry-education focused group, recognized a challenge that many high school woodworking teachers would soon face as the new school year began: how to teach woodworking while students are distance learning due to the pandemic.

SWM decided to reallocate their budget and resources towards helping as many teachers and students as they could in this new and difficult educational environment. Three main issues were identified in which SWM could provide support: procuring wood materials for students, securing tools and supplies for students, and assisting teachers in preparing the materials and tool kits.

SWM, a chapter of Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers, requested donations of materials and supplies from AWFS member companies, and companies responded to the call. SWM and AWFS thank the following companies for their generous donations:

-- Royal Plywood: two trucks of hardwood and panel material

-- Roseburg Forest Products: lumber and a financial contribution

-- Bessey Tools: spring clamps

-- EB Bradley: sandpaper, glue bottles, safety glasses

-- Weima: cutting tools

-- Rubio Monocoat: individual bottles of finish

-- Colonial Saw: Lamello glue bottles

-- Franklin Adhesives: Titebond wood glue

-- Kemp Hardware: drawer hardware

-- SkillsUSA CA State Director Clay Mitchell: financial contribution

-- SWM: tape measures

In total, SWM collected and distributed about $60,000 in donated wood materials and supplies from the woodworking industry. In addition, SWM awarded nineteen $500 grants to California woodworking teachers to use towards distance learning supplies.

Of the donations, AWFS member company Royal Plywood of Cerritos, California, contributed more than $50,000 in materials. Arriving in two flatbed trucks, it included laminated panels and multiple species of hardwood for high school woodworking programs throughout the region.

They also shipped materials from Roseburg Forest Products in Oregon. Dave Golling, vice president of business development at Royal Plywood said, “We are just thrilled that we could help out the local high school students by donating some of the materials we have in stock. We think this is a great program and will make a real difference for the woodworking teachers and students.”

SWM received so much material from Royal Plywood and Roseburg that the program was expanded to support any woodworking instructor in Southern California. Woodworking teachers were allowed to load their trucks and trailers with as much wood as they could safely transport back to their schools.

“Never in my 23 plus years teaching woodshop have I ever seen or met people so willing and able to help me and my students like you guys are,” said Matt Gilmour, woodworking instructor at Gabrielino High School.

SWM president Saúl Martín, who is also vice president of manufacturing at Architectural Woodworking Co., volunteered to cut and distribute wood materials for the teachers. He worked with several different instructors to help develop complete woodworking kits to be sent home to students. He then cut more than 20,000 pieces of poplar for students to use to frame model houses and make model furniture following plans developed by the teachers.

Martín opened AWC to the teachers on three separate Saturdays to let them load as much free wood as they could take. “SWM wanted to do something that would impact as many woodworking students as possible”, said Martín. “This was when the teachers really needed some help from industry to boost their woodworking program.”

In total, the efforts of SWM and AWFS member companies are expected to assist more than 1,000 woodworking students from 25 high school programs in Southern California.

To learn more about SWM and get involved, contact AWFS education manager Adam Kessler, adam@awfs.org, or 323-215-0312. Also see http://awfs.org

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