High-tech mitzvah: Group fixes up PCs for needy kids
High-tech mitzvah

High-tech mitzvah: Group fixes up PCs for needy kids

Students at an Israeli tech college are set to refurbish 1,000 computers, to be distributed by a social service group

A John Bryce students works on a computer, which will eventually find its way to the home of a needy child (Photo credit: Courtesy)
A John Bryce students works on a computer, which will eventually find its way to the home of a needy child (Photo credit: Courtesy)

What do computer users do with their old, outdated systems that aren’t worth upgrading? Often, they just throw them away — contributing to a growing worldwide “tech trash” problem that poses a major problem for the environment, say experts.

Instead, Israel’s John Bryce Institute has an alternative suggestion — donating the computers to Israel’s Computer for Every Child Foundation, which will refurbish and upgrade them, so they can be distributed to kids from needy families. It’s a way, according to John Bryce’s Vice President for Marketing Yinon Shviro, to help prepare more Israeli kids for a high-tech future.

The Foundation is a private, voluntary organization that has no connection with the Israeli government’s Computer for Every Child program, which purchases computers and laptops for schools and after-school programs, the Foundation said.

The Israeli branch of the worldwide John Bryce technology training outfit — Israel’s biggest computer and technology institute, according to Matrix Technologies, which operates the school — began working with the Computer for Every Child Foundation several months ago, gearing up for Good Deeds Day, which took place on Tuesday.

Thousands of volunteers took time off from work and school to get involved in all sorts of causes — many of them the “little things” that often fall through the cracks, such as painting a children’s day care center in Ramle, helping residents beautify their Netanya neighborhood by removing trash, giving out thousands of Purim packages to IDF soldiers, and much more. Good Deeds Day first started in Israel in 2007 (at the behest of Israel’s wealthiest woman, Shari Arison), and is now celebrated in over 50 countries worldwide.

To do their fair share, John Bryce students have been dedicating time to the Foundation, taking in old computers donated by individuals and companies, and fixing them up — installing new hard drives, memory, video and networking cards, and other hardware. In addition, they install open source software (operating systems, office and graphics programs, etc.), providing recipients with a complete, ready-to-go, off-the-shelf computing package. Among the refurbished computers are desktops and laptops.

The Computer for Every Child Foundation, which has been operating since 2007, has plenty of “stock” — computers that can be fixed up and distributed. The problem has been a lack of time and personnel to fix them up, the Foundation said. With the help of John Bryce students, it expects to be able to give away over 1,000 computers this year, ten times the number it was able to distribute in 2013, the organization said.

Shviro and the John Bryce students are happy to help. “This is the kind of social action project we are very proud to be a part of,” he said. “We are helping to lead the effort to refurbish computers that kids can use for education and fun at home. Anyone with extra, out of use computers is welcome to send them our way — we’ll know what to do with them.”

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