COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Nonprofit teaches teens perseverance through woodworking

COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT: Nonprofit teaches teens perseverance through woodworking
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:37 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2022 at 8:46 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It could easily be mistaken for Santa’s workshop.

Starting at 4 each afternoon, teens from around Wilmington show up ready to get to work – in hopes of making a little extra money. The nonprofit organization Kids Making It not only teaches students how to woodwork, but it also gives them a chance to sell their creations.

From entrepreneurship to social skills, the dedicated staff and volunteers at Kids Making It have three main goals: keep teens in school, out of trouble, and help guide them toward college or a future career.

“They’re building their self esteem, their self-advocacy, their ability to feel like they can actually accomplish things they set their mind to and then to be able to make some money in the process, doing something positive,” Executive Director Kevin Blackburn said.

That’s because anything the teens make, from Christmas tree ornaments to cutting boards, can be sold in the Kids Making It gift shop. All proceeds go back to the students who made the items.

Blackburn said last month, their students made $6,000 combined. Some students make several hundred dollars each month through the programs Kids Making It offers.

Their five programs include after-school opportunities, skill trade training and apprenticeships. More than 500 students currently participate in those programs.

“We’re able to build mentorship with the kids, we have lots of volunteers, lots of staff, the kids are able to see us consistently so they they’re seeing the same adults,” Blackburn said. “It’s a place where they feel really supported and valued, which is important to us.”

Kids Making It accepts monetary donations through its website and takes donations of supplies like wood and tools for students to use.

It also relies on dedicated volunteers who have a passion for woodworking or art.

The organization focuses on supporting students from low-income backgrounds. Any teens interested in learning how to woodwork can apply for the after-school program online.

The kids come in a lot of times, they’re quiet, kind of secluded, reserved, and not really sure if they can even do woodworking,” Blackburn said. “We show them that anyone can learn woodworking, it’s just a matter of putting your mind to it.”