Collect to Connect brings in more than 750 computers to help students

Published: Dec. 3, 2020 at 7:50 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The community came out in a big way to show support for WBTV’s Collect to Connect Campaign. The drive happened on Giving Tuesday at North Carolina Music Factory. WBTV partnered with E2D (Eliminate the Digital Divide) and Radio One Charlotte.

On Tuesday, more than 750 computers were donated to help connect families in need to the digital world. These are computers people no longer use and they just didn’t know what to do with them.

More than 300 computers came from Providence Day School and about 60 computers came from Sealed Air.

E2D will scrub the computers of all personal information, refurbish them, and then hand them out to families in need.

E2D says they could be able to hand those computers out to families as early as the end of January.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) identifies families in need of a computer. Families pay $75 for a refurbished computer from E2D.

A computer in the home will be able to connect students and families to opportunities such as employment, affordable housing, college, college scholarships, and other possibilities.

One viewer, John DiZegrega, saw the story WBTV did about Thomas Hunter. He is a junior at Harding University High School. Hunter has dreams of one day opening his own business but not having a computer to do research about that can be a challenge to fulfill his dreams.

DiZerega reached out and wanted to supply a computer for Hunter. We went through E2D and Hunter received the computer Thursday.

“I would say that’s a blessing.” Hunter said.

DiZerega says Hunter’s story resonated with him.

“We saw the segment on TV,” DiZerega said. “My wife and I were watching and it was so moving to hear Thomas’ passion and goals for one day, owning his own business. And, you know, my wife going through trying to create her own small business over the last three years. There’s no way she could have done it without technology.”

Hunter’s mother had tears of joy knowing a complete stranger took interest in her child. Hunter had this one thing to say to DiZerega.

“If I could see him in person,” Hunter said. “I would say Thank You .”

Now Hunter says a computer is a game-changer.

“It’s going to help this push toward my dream,” he said. To make it and turn it into reality - it’s a great thing.”

Hunter now says he can give up his school-issued computer to make room for another student - who has no computer.

“Having my own,” he said. “I can actually save that computer for somebody else who really needs it more than I do now.”

DiZerega says he felt good giving.

“Immediately to me,” DiZerega said. “It’s about empowerment. It’s about freedom. It’s about the positive energy that they’re going to experience through being connected, through being able to research and learn.”

If you want to give to this cause - there will be another WBTV Collect to Connect Event in January.

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