Couches for a Cause: Crim Students Combine Carpentry Skills With Desire to Help Their School and Families in Need

Crim Open Campus High School senior Keyshawn Releford hopes to one day become a carpenter or engineer.

Thanks to the hands-on experience he’s gaining at school, Keyshawn is well on his way to fulfilling that special dream. Now enrolled in the Crim Entrepreneurship class, Keyshawn and his classmates are busy learning to repair and refurbish gently used couches – all in an effort to support students’ basic needs, provide academic scholarships, and help families in need.

Known as “Couches for a Cause,” the class gives Crim students the opportunity to repair gently used, handcrafted, contemporary couches and chairs by Joybird and later sell their handiwork to the public – all for a fraction of the cost. If sold brand new, many of the couches retail for $1,200-$3,000; most now sell between $300 and $750.

Keyshawn and his classmates were recently given the opportunity to showcase their woodworking and carpentry skills on Thursday, Jan. 10, during Crim’s second annual “Couches for a Cause Silent Auction.” With couches and chairs of every hue lining the school’s halls, community members perused, made bids, and purchased several pieces of furniture. The school hopes to top last year’s proceeds of $20,000.

“It’s been a great experience,” said Keyshawn, who is 17. “I’ve learned how to do more and become better at construction.”

Those words are music to construction teacher Gerald Lake’s ears. Lake and Crim Principal Dawn Parker established the class in 2018 with the intention of teaching students the basics of construction and developing and strengthening their teamwork, communication and entrepreneurial skills, while also giving back to the school and community in the form of scholarships and donations.

According to Lake, the class is designed to teach everything from construction safety skills and tool identification, to creating couch frames, fabricating new pieces and developing basic entrepreneurship skills. This includes marketing, advertising and negotiating deals, as well as collecting money and invoices. Students also deliver furniture to families in need.

Lake said students are not only gaining useful skills, but they’re also building community by helping others.

“I’m quite proud,” Lake said. “Students are able to concentrate and create things in here. They’re getting great employability skills, and as a teacher, watching them grow and learn is what’s really important. They bring really great energy into the classroom.”

For more information, or to purchase a couch, be sure to visit:

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