Collect to Connect: CMS student says he needs a computer to help fulfill his dream

Collect to Connect: Donating computers to families in need

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The group Eliminate the Digital Divide known as E2D estimates there are about 16,000 families in Mecklenburg County that lack a computer.

One of those families is Thomas Hunter’s. He is a junior at Harding University High School. His family can’t afford a computer at this time.

He uses a Charlotte Mecklenburg School District issued computer to participate in remote learning. He is grateful for the computer but says sometimes it is a struggle.

“The school’s computer has been kind of slow,” Harding University High School student Thomas Hunter said. “And WiFi has problems in here and there. So it’s kind of hard to turn in assignments on time.”

Hunter has dreams of one day opening up a shoe store in Charlotte. The name of his business will be King Kicks. He likes sneakers.

Even though he is still in high school he wants to figure out what it will take to become an entrepreneur.

He can’t use the district-issued computer to find that information - it is only used for school work.

He says he could use his cell phone to find the information he needs but that form of technology is limited.

“Shopify is a great website to start your own website,” Hunter said. “But you can’t do it as much because you have to have a widescreen to actually see all the memes you can do - all the effect you can do with it.”

WBTV is teaming up with E2D and Radio One Charlotte to help give computers to families in need. The campaign is called Collect to Connect.

The goal is for the community to donate their old computers so students can use them. E2D will scrub the computer of personal information and then refurbish them for students to use.

E2D has been connecting low-income families with computers for the past seven years. The work is not over.

“I think it’s the kind of thing that makes E2D a strong organization,” E2D President/Co-Founder Pat Millen said. “Because we’re not going to sleep well until we know that we’ve solved this digital inequity.”

Hunter hopes he will soon get a computer he can use. He says he will be looking at colleges and needs a computer where he can fill out applications and find money to pay for a four-year degree.

He says a computer can help him make the right connections.

“Helps you with your scholarships,” he said. “Helps you put stuff on your scholarships.”

At the end of the school year, Hunter and other students will have to return the district issued computers.

The student believes that not having a computer to explore opportunities will cause limitations.

“If you have a door open for you,” Hunter said. “It puts a hold on that door and you’re trying to open for yourself to go further in your life.”

Collect to Connect will happen on Giving Tuesday, December 1st. You can drop off your old computer at the NC Music Factory at 920 Hamilton Street Charlotte, NC.

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