ELMWOOD, La. — A lot of people are giving back and paying it forward during this national health emergency.
In the New Orleans area, some local artists are turning salvaged desks into individual works of art for Jefferson Parish school children.
Every stencil, every paint stroke, every affirmation is a labor of love for Holis Hannan.
Hannan read some of the messages she is leaving for the lucky students who get one of her desks.
“Be strong. Begin again. Be kind. All we have is now. Good things take time.”
Lessons Hannan learned the hard way when her art studio and business, Canal Furniture Liquidators burned to the ground two years ago in a massive warehouse fire on Bayou St. John.
She spent the past week at her new business called Floor 13 in Elmwood, repaying the outpouring of support she received from friends and family after the fire.
“This is giving me the time to slow down and do something that I love to do and I haven’t had a chance to do which is paint,” Hannan said
She is determined to give about 50 students desks where they can do their school work.
Many children have been doing their studies on the dining room table while their schools remain closed because of the coronavirus.
“Kids need a safe space and a space that hopefully inspires them to do their homework, right now, while they’re being homeschooled,” Hannan said.
Artist Liz Lund is helping with what’s now been dubbed the “Dat Desk NOLA” project. She’s painting 8 desks in her Lakeview garage.
“Selfishly, painting is therapy for me,” Lund said. “It relaxes me and relieves stress and anxiety. What a better way to give back right now to kids who may be feeling the same anxiety and stress that we all are.”
Lund is also paying forward the kindness she received when her family evacuated to New Iberia after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“I had little kids at the time and strangers from all over gave my kids things we still remember,” Lund said.
According to Lund, the desks represent so much more than a surface for children to do their school work.
“It’s hope, from the community and we’re just spreading love and just trying to ease the tension for students a little bit,” Lund said.
Hannan and Floor 13 donated the first 50 desks. They are now raising money to keep the project going.
“Everybody has a part and so if anybody can do something and feel good about it, that’s important at this time,” Hannan said.
The Jefferson Parish School District is helping to identify 50 children in need to receive the desks.
“We are grateful to Floor 13 for this generous donation and show of love to our kids,” JP School Superintendent Cade Brumley said. “This is a perfect example of how we work together with the community for the benefit of our students.”
If you want more information on the Dat Desk NOLA project, click here.
You can also check out Dat Desk NOLA on Facebook.