Canada

Coronavirus: Non-profits donate 60 laptops to Calgarians in need

Two non-profits teamed up to donate 60 laptops to Calgarians in need on Saturday.

The Electronic Recycling Association refurbishes and reuses IT equipment that it donates to charities, non-profits, schools and care facilities across the country.

Harvest Hills Cares Calgary, launched in February 2020, provides food hampers to people in need.

Read more: Coronavirus: Alberta universities look to mostly online courses for fall semester

Julia Armstrong, ERA’s donations manager, said the organization has seen a substantial increase in the requests for donations.

“What we decided to do is open up our donation program to also include requests from the public,” she said.

“We wanted to help kids who are doing school online now. We wanted to help people that don’t have computers that were going to the library or going to their neighbour’s house.”

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Read more: Coronavirus: ATA, CBE pleased with Calgary teachers adapting to online learning

All 60 laptops are spoken for, Armstrong said.

“We had 30 from the Lending Laptops program — that’s through ERA — and then we had another 30 from Harvest Hills Cares Calgary,” she said.

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At this point, the ERA has handed out 300 laptops across Canada, according to Armstrong.

“We have over 1,300 requests through our Lending Laptops program. So there’s a lot of need,” she said. “We’re calling out to all organizations who are looking to dispose of their unwanted IT equipment to get involved.”

Read more: Calgary school boards transition to online learning during COVID-19 pandemic

Jennifer Kremenik, founder of Harvest Hills Cares Calgary, said her organization has branched out to help Calgarians in more ways during the pandemic.

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“To me, it wasn’t fair to have a child use a cellphone to do their homework. So when we partnered with the ERA, it was beneficial to have everybody involved,” she said.

Harvest Hills Cares Calgary has received a lot of requests from families for the technology, Kremenik said.

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“By setting them up with these laptops, they can connect with their teachers and then they can benefit from the teacher-student relationship, and at the same time, the teachers can also help the parents to be able to help their kids in school,” she said.

Kremenik said families are grateful for the laptops and what they can do for their children.

“We have one family that is a family of 10, and we gave them their laptops because they had nothing and they were taking their entire family to the library to do schoolwork,” she said.

“By partnering with the ERA, we were able to give them laptops so they can do schoolwork and look for jobs from their own home.”

Read more: Grading kids during COVID-19: How Alberta compares to other Canadian schools

Travis McNeil, whose family received laptop donations, said the COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone in unique ways.

“Not having a whole lot of money, we weren’t equipped for the technical transition that kind of got imposed on us,” he said.

“I just knew that this was going be a great opportunity, that they’re equipped for September, whatever way the school system looks. They’re all taken care of and now they can continue with their studies.”

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McNeil’s family lives paycheque to paycheque, so the laptops are a blessing.

“There’s no way this would happen for these guys if it wasn’t for this program and what they’re doing for us,” he said.

“[The laptops] bring us up to date and able to communicate with each other, with other people and just that they can continue their education because that’s really important. They’re our future.”

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