Bothell Home Depot volunteers help kids build birdhouses
By MATT PHELPS
Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor
April 18, 2012 · 1:16 PM
More than 30 hammers pounded away with youthful fervor last Friday at the Juanita Elementary field house. The incessant noise felt and sounded more like a freight train barreling through the open-air field house than a school art project.
About 50 students at a time, out of the 400 kids who participated, took their turn creating a birdhouse with the help of 10 volunteers from the Bothell Home Depot, 25 or so parents and one special conductor.
“There is a lot of effort that goes into this one hour,” said Pete Klinefelter, who has been running Pete’s Workshop on Saturday mornings at the Bothell Home Depot for more than a decade. “They select the nails, glue or whatever they need. It pulls the creativity out of the kids. It is just fun.”
Klinefelter — with a short white beard reminiscent of Santa in summer and wearing a painted white lab coat, giant tie, leather hat and goggles with a fake eyeball hanging off the lens to emphasize safety first — got the kids started by telling them about the project.
The free class at Home Depot teaches kids how to build small wood projects, such as bird houses, cars, hydroplanes and planter boxes. But this art project came to the kids at Juanita Elementary. The supplies alone could have filled a boxcar.
“It’s really cool,” said fourth-grader Allison Lofquist. “I have been looking forward to this.”
QFC also donated birdseed and all the wood material were scraps from Home Depot’s lumber department.
“In the past, all this wood would just go into the garbage,” said Klinefelter. “Most of it comes from fencing.”
The event is also designed as an Earth Day event to teach about recycling.
“We learned that stuff made with plastic goes in the recycle,” said Lofquist. “You can even recycle your phones.”
The kids got to keep their birdhouse and a certificate for participating.
All the Home Depot employees were volunteering on their own time.
“It is not hard to get the volunteers,” said Home Depot manager Chris Durbin. “We want to get out and touch base with the community and give back to our customers. We always strive to go one step beyond what our customers expect.”
The expectation for Klinefelter is fun. He stresses that kids learn to build naturally with no power tools. All the wood materials are precut, but the kids have to figure out what pieces to use. Klinefelter said that his parents instilled his creativity by example.
“I built a boat when I was 13 and went out on Lake Washington,” said Klinefelter. “It sunk pretty fast because I used the wrong glue. But you have to try things.”
Klinefelter, who worked construction for 50 years, loves to work with kids.
“I was a Seafair clown in 1957,” said Klinefelter, who drives 45 minutes from Index to the Home Depot to volunteer to lead the class. “I learned how to be a clown from J.P. Patches.”
Klinefelter’s loyalty is returned by his students, including one girl who has been attending the Home Depot class for five years. The idea to bring the class to the school came from two of Klinefelter’s loyal students — Juanita Elementary students Kaizen Mouw and Hannah Schleer.
“For the last two-and-a-half years he has been getting me up at 7 a.m. on Saturdays, my only day to sleep in, to go to the workshop,” said Kaizen’s father Jordan Mouw, who has more birdhouses than he knows what to do with. “It’s fun. I don’t mind at all.”
Mouw and Sue Schleer, art docent director and Hannah’s mother, helped set up the event for Juanita Elementary.
“It is a good hands-on experience,” said Juanita Elementary principal Dana Stairs, who said that the kids had safety training for the event. “They are surprisingly good with the hammers.”
Mouw helped Klinefelter set up his own Facebook page, “Pete’s Workshop for Kids,” where kids and parents can find out about the classes, see pictures and watch videos.
Klinefelter said that when he retired his wife told him to find something to do.
“I really don’t know what I would do if they eliminated my ‘job’,” said Klinefelter.
“The schools are cutting down so much. There is so much out there to do and no one is doing it. I love it.”
And if the wide smiles and pride on the kids’ faces are any indication, Klinefelter’s job is secure.Contact Bothell Reporter Regional Assistant Editor Matt Phelps at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-425-483-3732 (ext 5050).