The gift of ‘browsing’ for low-income families

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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Having access to Google, e-mail and Facebook every day is something many of us take for granted, but having a home computer, is a luxury not every family can afford.

More than100 area families Saturday got the gift of 'browsing' thanks to a non-profit and the help of the community.

For PCs for People, a non-profit computer recycling organization based in St. Paul Minnesota- this is the 43rd time it's partnering with a school district to give computers to those who can't afford one.

But Saturday marked the group's first effort in Wisconsin.

“Rather than just recycling old computers, and melting them down and getting value that way, we create value by reusing materials again and giving them back to low-income families across the upper Midwest,” said Sam Drong with PCs for People.

Drong says there were many reasons the Menomonie School District was picked for the program. The District then chose 126 of its low-income families to receive refurbished computers loaded with software, like Windows 7.

“About 65 percent of our recipients are typically unemployed, so majority of them will be using them (computers) for both looking for jobs as well as using them to kind of get the skills necessary.

Kelly Hoyland, Menomonie School District Technology Coordinator says the computers will help kids do better in school.

“So many of our teachers do some of our teachers do things with technology now, that if they don't have it at home, and they're gone sick for a day, they fall behind,” explained Hoyland.

“Business and state, county and city organizations typically get rid of their computers anywhere form 3-5 years after they buy them,” said Drong.

That's how the old models end up at organizations like PCs for People.

“We try to source as many computers locally as we can, so the communities help themselves in that regard,” he said.

About two thirds of the ones given out were collected in Eau Claire, Chippewa, and Dunn counties.

That computer’s retail value is around 200 dollars but families say to them it’s worth much more than that.

“I was going to get a new computer, but it was going to be a while down the road, because I just didn't have the money yet,” said a father of two elementary students Jason Carlson.

“This means a lot because I don't have a computer at home and I can do my school work that I've been behind on,” said high school student Lilly Hamnock.

Otto Bremer Foundation's grant paid for the computers.
PCs for people say they will be coming back to our area again soon.
If a company is getting rid of its computers it can contact PCs for People directly.

The organization says it will make sure to put them in the hands of kids from that area.

You find more information on PCs for People visit the link on the side of this page.

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