Donated, refurbished computers are turning into free computers for families in need through the Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley.
Residents can donate their old, unused computers at several Valley businesses or nine Boys and Girls Club branches for the KidComputers pilot program. Each business and branch offers an incentive for the tax-deductible donation.
Scottsdale Community College students then refurbish and rebuild those donated computers.
The Boys and Girls Clubs of the East Valley will choose families active in the club who are in need of a computer at home, said Angie Finnell, a computer learning coordinator for the clubs.
"In this information age, young people and families are at a disadvantage without a home computer," Finnell said. "We’re giving members not only access to technology, but through our programs the confidence to command the technological tools that will shape their future."
In a recent survey conducted by the Boys and Girls Clubs, 40 percent of members do not have access to a computer at home, while 60 percent of those members do not have access to the Internet on their home computer, Finnell said.
The KidComputers program kicked off Aug. 1 as a way to recycle old computers and electronics, such as fax machines and printers, and turn them into something useful for families, Finnell said.
Computers and other electronic equipment should not be thrown away because components are environmentally hazardous, Finnell said.
The idea came about from RedSeven Computers in Tempe, which had a need to get rid of storage units full of traded-in computer equipment, said Michael Cady, president of RedSeven.
"We plotted, planned and schemed with the Boys and Girls Club to get something started," Cady said. "A majority of children have to go to the library or to their school to use a computer."
A special projects class of nine students was put together at Scottsdale Community College specifically for the KidComputers program, said Ron Monroig, a computer information systems professor.
"Our school got very excited about this because it’s something we’re doing to give back to the community," said Monroig, who is also SCC’s computer work force development coordinator. "We got such a good response from students, we will probably offer two classes next semester."
Students rebuild the computers from the ground up and install new software for three and a half hours a week during the 16-week class. The students get a hands-on experience with real systems, while helping the community, Monroig said.
"Here’s an instance where they aren’t led by the hand," Monroig said. "There isn’t a recipe for repair when you’re working on computers from various manufacturers. That’s about as close as you can get for real life."
Computers that are too old or beyond the fixable stage are used for parts, Monroig said. Unusable equipment goes to a company that will smash up the equipment and dispose of it properly, Cady said.
Find out more
For a list of businesses that serve as drop-off locations for computers, or for information on the KidComputers program, visit www.kidcomputers.org or call (480) 820-3688.